THE True Christians Love OF THE UNSEEN CHRIST: OR A Discourse chiefly tending to excite and promote the decaying Love of Christ in the hearts of Christians.
With an Appendix concerning Christs Manifestation of himself to them that Love him.
1 Cor. 16. 22.
By Thomas Vincent, Minister sometime of Maudlins Milkstreet, London.
London, Printed by I. R. for Samuel〈◊〉, at the Blew-Bell in Little-Brittain, 1677.
To the Reader.
OVr Saviour sent an Epistle from heaven to the Church of Ephesus, wherein he reprove∣eth her because she had left her first love, and threatneth the Removal of her Candlestick, that he would take away her light, if she did not recover her Love. By the same hand at the same time he sent another Epistle to the Church of Laodicea, wherein he re∣proveth her Lukewarmness, and threat∣neth, because she was neither hot nor cold, he would spue her out of his mouth, Rev. 2. 4, 5. & 3. 15, 16. And are Christians in England under no such sin, in no such danger? when some scoff at the flames of love to Christ, like dogs that bark at the Moon so far above them; when the most nominal Christians are wholly strangers to this Love, whatever their notional knowledge be; the former Page [unnumbered] looking upon it as but a fancy, the lat∣ter having it onely in the Theory: and when amongst those Christians who love Christ in sincerity, there are so few that know what it is to Love Christ with fervour and ardency: when there is so General a decay of Love to Christ in the Land, Lord what is like to become of England? Have we not provoked the Lord to take away our Candlestick, to suffer the worse than Egyptian darkenes to over spread us again, and cover our Light, because it shineth with such cold beams, because the Light of Knowledge in the head is accompanied with so little warmth of Love to Christ in the hearts of most Christians? Every one will fetch water to quench fire in a general confl•grati∣on; & surely there is need in a day of such General decay of Love to Christ, that some should fetch fire, fire from heaven, & use bellows too, Arguments I mean, to enkindle and blow up the spark of Love to Christ, which seems Page [unnumbered] so ready to expire. Reader, The fol∣lowing discourse concerning the True Christians Love of the unseen Christ, is not finely spun, and curiously woven with neatnesses of wit and language; it is not flourished and set off with va∣riety of Metaphors, Hyperbolies, Rhe∣torical Elegancies, or Poetical Fancies and fragments; it is not adorned and fringed with the specious show of many Marginal Quotations, excerpted out of divers Authors; The discourse is plain, but the Author hath endeavour∣ed that it might be warm, his design be∣ing more to advance his Master than Himself in thy esteem; and if he have less of thy praise, so his Lord may have more of thy love, his great end is at∣tained. The chief part of this dis∣course concerning the love of Christ is Application, and about two thirds of it Exhortation (there being gene∣rally in this knowing age more need of excitation than information) where thou hast variety of arguments & mo∣tives Page [unnumbered] to stir up and provoke unto the love of Christ, together with divers directions how to attain this love in the truth and strength of it, and where∣in the strength of love to Christ should evidence it self. There is also an appen∣dix added for further encouragement unto the love of Christ, concerning Christs manifestation of himself unto such as love him. The whole discourse is practical, nothing in it controversal; not only Protestants, but Papists too will verbally acknowledge the obligati∣on which Christians have to love Christ, and none will oppose this that are true Christians, none but Turks, Infidels and Devils are professedly a∣gainst it. That this little Book may be blessed by the Lord to be a means to warm and inflame thine heart with love to the unseen Christ, is the earnest prayer of
A hearty well-wisher to thy soul. Thomas Vincent.
The True Christians Love of the Unseen CHRIST:
1 Pet. 1. 8.
THE Life of Christianity doth consi•t very much in our love un∣to Christ. Without Love unto Christ, we are as much without Spiritual Life, as a Carkass when the Soul is fled Page 2 from it, is without Natural Life. Faith without Love to Christ, is a dead Faith; and a Christian without Love to Christ, is a dead Christian; dead in Sins and Tres∣passes. Without Love to Christ, we may have the Name of Christians, but we are wholly without the Nature: we may have the Form of Godliness, but are whol∣ly without the Power. Give me thine Heart, is the language of God to all the Chrildren of Men, Prov. 23. 26. And Give me thy Love, is the language of Christ unto all his Disciples.
Christ knoweth the command and influ∣ence which Love to him, in the Truth and Strength of it, hath: How it will Engage all the other Affections of his Disciples for Him; that if he have their Love, their Desires will be chiefly after Him; their Delights will be chiefly in Him, their Hopes and Expectations will be chiefly from Him; their Hatred, Fear, Grief, Anger, will be carried forth chiefly unto Sin, as it is Offensive unto Him. He knows that Love will Engage and Employ, for him all the Powers and Faculties of their Souls; their Thoughts will be brought into Cap∣tivity and Obedience unto Him; their Un∣derstandings will be employed in Seeking Page 3 and Finding out his Truths; their Me∣mories will be Receptacles to retain them; their Conscience will be ready to Accuse and Excuse as his Faithfull Deputies; their Wills will Choose and Refuse according to his Direction and Revealed Pleasure. All their Senses and the Members of their Bo∣dies, will be his Servants: their Eyes will See for him, their Ears will Hear for him, their Tongues will Speak for him, their Hands will Work for him, their Feet will Walk for him: All their Gifts and T•lents will be at his Devotion and Service. If he have their Love, they will be ready to Do for him what he requireth; they will be ready to Suffer for him, whatever he calleth them unto: If they have much Love to him, they will not think much of Deny∣ing themselves; taking up his Cross and fol∣lowing him wherever he leadeth them, love to Christ then being so Essential unto true Christianity, so earnestly look'd for by our Lord and Master, so Powerfully Command∣ing in the Soul and over the whole Man, so Greatly Influential on Duty; I have made choice of this subject of Love to Christ, to Treat on; and my chief Endeavor herein shall be to Excite and Provoke Christians unto the Lively and Vigorous Exercise of Page 4 this Grace of Love unto the Lord Jesus Christ; of which Incentives, there is a Great and Universal need.
The Epistle wherein my Text lyeth, was written by Peter the Apostle of the Circumcision, and is directed to the Stran∣gers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and B•thynia, as in the first v. of this Chapter. By these Strangers we are to understand the scattered Iews, who were Strangers in these several Coun∣tries where they did Inhabit. We read in the 2d of the Acts that there came up many of these Iews, from these and other Coun∣tries, unto Ierusalem to Worship▪ and in the temple hearing the Apostles speak with divers Tongues, which were of use in the divers places where they did live, and that without Instruction from Man, but as the Spirit gave them utterance; they were A∣mazed and Confounded: and afterward hearing Peter preach, through the Won∣derful Power of the Spirit, three thousand of them were Converted by one Sermon unto the Christian Faith, and added to the Christian Church. When the Feast of Pentecost was over, these Converted Iews returned into their Countries where their several Dwellings, Families and Callings Page 5 were: which Countries being Heathenish and Idolatrous, no doubt but there they met with Opposition and Suffering upon the account of the Christian Religion which they became Zealous Professors of, be∣sides what they endured from their own Countreymen, or Unconverted I•ws who hated Christianity more than the Heathens did. The Apostle doth seem to have a respect unto these in this Epistle, wherein he doth encourage them under their suffer∣ings for the sake of Christ by many Conso∣latory Arguments. In the 2d v. he wish∣eth that Grace and Peace might be multi∣plyed in them and towards them, and then though their Sufferings did abound, their Consolations would abound much more. In the 3d 4th and 5th ver. He blesseth God for his abundant Mercy towards them in begetting them unto a lively Hope of the glorious and never fading Heavenly Inheri∣tance which was reserved for them through Gods Infinite Grace, and unto which they were reserved and kept through Faith by Gods infinite power. In the 6th and 7th verses, he telleth them, however they were in heaviness through manifold Temp∣tations, that is Afflictions, which are the Worlds left-hand Temptations; yet he Page 6 giveth them to understand that these afflicti∣ons they were but for a season; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning; they were but needful to humble them, to purifie them, to crucifie them to the world, to make them conform∣able to their head the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they were for the tryal of their faith, that the truth of it might appear both to themselves and others, and that the worth of it might appear how much more precious than Gold when it is tryed in the Fire, which carrying them thorow their sufferings, might be found both to their own praise and their Masters honour, at the appearing of Jesus Christ: and then the Apostle doth take occasion in the text to speak of their Love which they did bear unto this Jesus Christ, and of that un∣speakable and glorious joy, which doth re∣sult from believing in him although they had no sight of him, which no trouble or affliction could overwhelm or hinder. Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of Glory. Hence observe,
Doct. 1. That it is the Property and duty of true Christians to Love Iesus Christ Page 7 whom they have never seen. Whom ha∣ving not seen ye Love.
Doct. 2. That true Christians do Believe in an unseen Christ. In whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing.
Doct. 3. That true Christians do or may re∣joice in Believing with unspeakable and glorious joy. In whom, though now ye see him not, yet Believing ye rejoice with Ioy unspeakable and full of Glory.
Here are three great points to be treated of. 1. Concerning the Love of Christians unto Christ. 2. Concerning the faith of Chri∣stians in Christ. 3. Concerning the Joy of Christians in Believing▪ For the present I shall speak only of the Love of Christians unto Christ under the first Doctrine, the other two I may have opportunity to treat of afterwards.
Doct. THat it is the Property and duty of true Christians to love the Lord Iesus Christ, whom they have never seen.
In handling of this point I shall speak. 1. Concerning true Christians who do love Jesus Christ. 2. Concerning Jesus Christ whom they have never seen, the Object of Page 8 their Love. 3. Concerning the Love which they bare unto this unseen Christ. 4. Shew that it is the Property of true Christians to Love Jesus Christ whom they have never seen. 5. That it is their Duty to love him. 6. How they ought to love Him. 7. Why they do love Him, where I shall give the reasons of the point. 8. Make some Use and Application.
1. Concerning true Christians whose property it is to love Jesus Christ whom they have never seen, whom having not seen yee love, ye love, that is, ye who are true Christians, who are so in reality as well as profession; and of these true Chri∣stians that do love Christ, the Apostle doth give a description in the 2d. ver. where he calls them, Elect according to the fore∣knowledge of God the Father, th•ough Sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Iesus Christ. True Christians are Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, they are such whom God according to the Councel of his own will, according to his own pur∣pose and grace, did choose from all Eternity to be a holy and peculiar people to himself, to glorifie him here on Earth, and that they might be glorifyed by him hereafter in hea∣ven. And this election doth evidence it Page 9 self in the Sanctification of the Spirit, true Christians are sanctified being separated and set apart from the rest of the world, for Gods use and service: God hath sealed them for himself, and hereby distinguished them from all others, the Motto of which seal is this, Holiness unto the Lord. See a descrip∣tion of them in this respect, 2 Tim. 2. 21. If any man purge• himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto Honour, sanctifyed and meet for the Masters use, and prepa∣red unto every good work: they are purg∣ed from the defilement of sin, which doth pollute and dishonor them, they are ves∣sels unto honour, like those of Silver and Gold in a great house, which are adorned with Pearls and precious stones; they are adorned with all sanctifying graces, which are of more worth than the richest Jewels; and hereby they are both beautiful in Gods eye, and they are made meet for Gods use, being hereby prepared and ena∣bled unto every good work. This the A∣postle prays for in the behalf of the Thessa∣lonians, 1 Thess. 5. 23. And the very God of peace sanctifie you wholly, and I pray God your whole Spirit, and Soul, and Body be preserved blamelesse unto the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ. True Christians are sanctifyed wholly, in their whole man, Page 10 though they be not sanctified thorowly: they are sanctified in every part, though they are not sanctified in the highest de∣gree. Their whole Spirit is sanctified that is the higher faculties of the soul, namely the understanding and the will▪ their un∣derstandings are enlightned by the Spirit unto a Spiritual discerning both of good and evil, beyond what any natural man doth o• can atta•n unto; their wills are bowed, or rather rectified, and made straight, being enclined unto God and his Law. Their Souls are sanctified in the inferior faculties, in all the affections be∣longing both to the concupiscible and the irrascible appetite; their liking affections of love, desire, delight and hope are to∣wards God and Christ and things above; their disliking affections of hatred, fear, grief and anger are towards sin. Their bodies also are sanctifyed being made members of Christ, and instruments of Righteousness; their eyes, ears, tongues, hands, feet and every part being devoted to God and made use of for his glory; Thus true Christians are sanctified by the spirit. And they are sanctified unto obedi∣ence, the graces which are wrought by the spirit in their hearts, do appear in the obe∣dience of their lives; the course of their Page 11 lives in a course of obedience unto the laws of Christ: they are sanctified unto obedi∣ence and they are sanctified unto sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; God hath set them apart to be sprinkled with the blood of the immac•late Lamb, who takes away sin that they might be pardoned and saved, such are true Christians who love Christ whom they have not seen.
Secondly COncerning the object of true Christians Love, and that is Jesus Christ whom they have never seen. This Jesus Christ whom they love is the Eternal Son of God, the second Person in the glorious Trinity, who in time assumed our Humane Nature, clothed himself with our mortal Flesh, lived like a servant in a mean condition, died like a malefactor the cursed Death of the Cross, and all for our sakes, for our sins, rose again the third day for our Justification, ascended up into heaven after forty days, and there is set down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high, to make intercession for us, and to make preparation there for our reception, into the glorious Mansions and Page 12 Eternal Habitations, which are in the Fa∣thers house. He is called Jesus from the Hebrew word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 which signifieth to save because he saveth his people from their sins, Matth. 1. 21. He is called Christ from the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 which signi∣fieth to anoint, he being anointed by the Father with the Spirit and with Power, to be Mediator between God and Man, to be the great Prophet, and Priest, and King, of the Church. This Jesus Christ Christi∣ans have not seen with the eye of sense; indeed some Christians in the primitive times, as the Apostles who were of his fa∣mily and other disciples who conversed with him frequently, did see Christ with the eye of sense, but it was in his state of Humiliation, when he was here upon the Earth, not in his state of Exaltation, now he is in Heaven; yet some have seen Christ after his Ascention namely Paul at his con∣version, and Stephen the Proto Martyr be∣fore he dyed; but none have had a perfect sight with bodily eyes of the Glory which is upon Christ's body, the lustre of which is so great that none can be∣hold it in this state of weakness and imper∣fection, and live. But whatever sight some Christians have had formerly, no Christi∣ans now have a sight of Christ's Person; Page 13 they have heard of him with the hearing of the Ear, but they have not seen him with the seeing of the Eye; they have seen Re∣presentations of Christ in the Sacrament, but they have never seen his Person that is represented; they have seen his Image upon their Fellow-Christians, but they have not seen the original from whom this Image hath been drawn. Some Christians have been in Iudea, and seen the place where the Lord lived; and at Ierusalem and seen the place where the Lord dyed; and Visited the place of his Sepulchre where the Lord for a time did lye: and they have seen the Mount whence the Lord Ascended; but no Christians now alive have been in Ierusalem, and on Mount Sion, which is above, to see where the Lord now is in his Glory. It is this Jesus Christ whom Christians have not seen, that is the Object of their Love.
Thirdly, Concerning the Love which True Christians do bear un∣to this unseen Christ. Love is the going forth of the Heart unto the Object Belov∣ed; and the Love which True Christians Page 14 do bear unto Jesus Christ, is a Grace wrought by the Spirit in their hearts, whereby upon discovery and believing Apprehensions of Christs infinite Loveli∣ness and Excellency, his Matchless Love Grace and Mercy; their Hearts do go forth towards him in Earnest desires after Union to him, and Communion with him, wherein they take chief Complacency; and this accompanied with a yeilding and dedication of themselves unto his will and service.
1. The Love of Christians unto Christ, is a Grace wrought in their Hearts by the Spirit. It is a Flower most Sweet and Fragrant, but there is no Seed of it in the Nature of any Man since the Fall, it is planted in the Soul by the Spirit of God. Love to Christ is a Divine Spark, that comes down from above; a fire which is kindled by the breath of the Lord, whose Ess•nce is Love.
2. The Ground of this Love to Christ, is the discovery and believing Apprehensions of Christs Lovelinesse and Love. There must be first a discovery of Christ as a suta∣ble Object for Love, and not a bare No∣tion of this, but believing apprehensions of it, that Christ is Infinitely lovely, Su∣perlatively Excellent; and that his love is Page 15 Matchless and Transcendent towards the Children of Men, that there is a Treasury in him, and a Storehouse of all Graces, and the most Needfull and Rich Supplies; otherwise there will be no going forth of the Heart in love unto him.
3. The Actings of Christians love to Christ, is in their desires after Vnion unto, and Communion with Christ. It is the Nature of love to desire Union to the Object beloved; especially of this love to Christ: and this Union being attained, the desires are after Communion with Christ, Converse and Fellowship with him; no Converse is so desirable as with the Persons whom we most dearly love: and this Communion being attained, there is chief Complacency therein, the Soul doth sweetly rest and repose it self in Christ, and rejoyceth in his presence and love.
4. The Concomitant of this Love which True Christians have unto Christ, is a yield∣ing and dedication of themselves unto his will and Service. Lovers do give them∣selves unto those whom they love; this accompanieth the Marriage Union: and such as love Christ, they are Espoused and joyned unto Christ; and they give them∣selves unto Christ to be his, and wholly at Page 16 his dispose, as the Wife giveth her self un∣to the dispose of her Husband.
Fourthly, THe Fourth thing is to shew, that it is the Property of all true Christians, to Love this unseen Christ. True Christians are differenced and di∣stinguished, not only from all Heathens and Infidels, but also from all bare Nominall Christians, by their Love to Jesus Christ. It is the Property of Covetous Persons to love Worldly Wealth and Riches: It is the Property of Ambitious Persons, to love Worldly Honour and Dignities: It is the Property of Voluptuous Persons, to love Sensual Pleasures and Delights: And it is the Property of True Christians to Love Jesus Christ whom they have never seen. None but such as are True Christians do Love Christ, and all those that are True Christians do love him. The Loveliness of Christ doth appear not to the Eye of Sense, but to the Eye of Faith; they that do not see him with this Eye, they cannot love him; and they that do see him with this Eye, they cannot choose but love him. Such as do not love Christ, it Page 17 is not because Christ wants Beauty, but be∣cause they are blind. Now all true Chri∣stians have this Eye of Faith, to discern Christ's Excellencies; and none but True Christians have this Eye; the Essence of Christianity doth consist in Believing▪ Reason makes us Men, but Faith makes us True Christians. It being therefore the property of True Christians to believe, it is their property also to love this Unseen Christ.
Fifthly, THe Fifth thing is to shew, that it is the Duty of all True Christians to love this unseen Christ. This will appear if you look into John 21. 15. 16, 17. Peter was one of the boldest and for∣wardest of all Christs disciples, but he had been withal too self-confident, which was the introduction unto and laid the founda∣tion for his fall and thrice shameful denial of his Master; a look from his Lord put him in remembrance, and brought him to Repentance with bitter weeping for his sin so soon as it was committed. After our Saviour was risen from the dead, he ap∣pears unto Peter with other of his disciples Page 18 and in this place he asketh the same questi∣on in the same words three times, Simon Son of Ionas, lovest thou me? Whereby as he doth tacitly upbraid him for his great sin in his three times denyal of him (which had there not been a defect in his love, he would never have done) so he doth also give a signification that love to himself is the great duty, and the great thing which he doth look for in all his disciples.
THe 6th. thing is to shew how Christi∣ans ought to Love this unseen Christ.
1. Christians ought to love Christ with Sincerity of Love, Eph. 6. 24. Grace be with all them that Love our Lord Iesus Christ in Sincerity. It was the great sin of Iudah, Ier. 3. 10. That she turned not to the Lord with her whole heart, but feign∣edly: so it is a great sin to love Christ with a feigned and hypocritical love; the love of Christians to Christ ought to be sincere in regard of the habit & inward workings of it, they must love him not only in show, word, and outward profession, but their love must be cordial in the heart and so a love indeed and in truth: and the love of Page 19 Christians to Christ must be sincere in re∣gard of the object of it, they must love Christ for himself and not chiefly for what they get by him; to love Christ only for Temporal gain is hypocritical love, to love Christ cheifly for other gain is not so spiri∣tual, but to love Christ for his own excel∣lencies and perfections is most sincere and generous, this sincerity of love to Christ is every ones duty.
2. Christians ought to love Christ with Supremacy of love, they must place him in the highest seat of their hearts; he is a Great King, and he looks for the Throne, and that all Creatures should be placed beneath him, and stand at his Foot∣stool: Math. 10. 37. He that loveth Fa∣ther or Mother more than mee, is not wor∣thy of Me; he that loveth Son or Daugh∣ter more than Me, is not Worthy of Me. They are the words of our Saviour: Christians may love Father and Mother, the Law of God and Nature doth require it; they may love Husband and Wife, the Word of God enjoyneth the Husband to love his Wife as his own Body, and as Christ loved the Church; they may love Sons, Daughters, Brethren, Sisters, Kin∣dred, Friends, yea Enemies, and they ought to do it; yet all must be with a Sub∣ordinate Page 20 love, but they must love Christ with their chief love; otherwise they are not worthy to stand in the Relation of Di∣sciples.
3. Christians ought to love Christ with Ardency of Love: Luk. 24. 32. And they said one to another, did not our Hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the Way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? This burning love Christ en∣kindled in the heart of his Disciples, and this burning love Christ requireth of all Christians; Can•. 8. 6, 7. Love is strong as Death, the coals thereof are coals of Fir• which hath a vehement Flame. Many Waters cannot quench Love, neither can the Floods drown it. Such a strong vehe∣ment ardent flaming love Christians should have unto Jesus Christ, which all the waters of Affliction may not be able to quench, which no Flouds of Temptations or Perse∣cution may be able to drown and ove•∣whelm. Therefore
4. Christians ought to love Christ with Constancy of Love. Having begun to love him, they ought to continue to love him, and to love him unto the end; as they ought to be constant in their Obedience, and to persevere in their other Graces; so Page 21 they ought to be constant and to persevere in this Grace of love to Christ.
Seventhly, THE Seventh thing is to shew, why true Christi∣ans do Love Christ, whom they have never seen.
Rea. 1. True Christians do love Christ be∣cause of the Need which they have of him. Men do love their Necessary Food, with∣out which their Bodies would starve with Hunger: Men do love their Necessary Raiment and Habitations, without which in Winter Seasons their Bodies would starve with Cold. Men do love their Ne∣cessary Friends, upon whom (under God) they have their Dependance, and from whom they have all their Subsistence: But no Thing in the World, or Friend in the World, is so Needful to the Body, as the Lord Jesus Christ is unto the Soul: and as the Excellencies of the Soul, are far beyond the Excellencies of the Body; so the Necessities of the Soul, are far beyond the Necessities of the Body: which Ne∣cessities can be answered by none but Jesus Christ; and therefore True Christians do Page 22 love him. At first Conversion when they were convinced of Sin, awakened out of their carnal security, O what Need had they, and did they see they had of Christ! they perceived themselves to be lost, and that it was Christ only that could save them; they felt the Wounds of Consci∣ence, and it was Christ only that could Heal them; they feared the Wrath of a Sin-revenging God, and it was Christ only that could Deliver them. The Re∣mission, Reconciliation and Salvation, which they had by Christ, did lay the first Foundation of a most endeared love unto Christ; And st•ll they perceive a con∣tinual need of Christ, to procure daily pardon for them, and to convey dayly supplyes of Grace unto them. They have Need of Christ, when they are Dark to Enlighten them; when they are Dead to Quicken them; when they are Streight∣ned, to Enlarge them; when they are Weak, to Strengthen them; when they are Sad, to Comfort them; when they are Tempted, to Succour them; when they are Fallen, to Raise them; when they are in Doubts, to Resolve them; when they are under Fears, to Encourage them; when they Stagger, to Establish them; when they Wander, to Restore them. Page 23 Christ, and None but Christ, can do all this, and more than this for them: and therefore because of the need and useful∣ness of Christ, true Christians do love him.
Rea. 2, True Christians do love an un∣seen Christ, because of the Loveliness of Christ; which Loveliness though it be not and cannot here be seen by the Eye of the Body, yet it is evident unto the Eye of Faith: see the Description which is given of Christ the Beloved, by his Spouse the Church, Cant. 5. 9. The Daughters of Ierusalem there enquire of the love-sick Spouse, What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved, O thou fairest amongst Women? what is thy Beloved more than another Beloved, that thou dost so charge us? Hereupon the Spouse giveth a De∣scription, ver. 10. My Beloved is VVhite and Ruddy, the cheifest among ten thou∣sand; and after she had set forth his Graces. Beauties, and Excellent Accomplishments, in Metaphors taken from beauties in the several parts of mans body, in the 11, 12, 13, and 14, verses, she concludeth in the 15 and 16 verses, His Countenance is as Le∣banon, Excellent as the Cedars. His Mouth is most sweet, yea he is altogether Lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is Page 24 my Friend O Daughters of Ierusalem. The Spouse is here acknowledged to be the Fairest amongst Women, and not only by the Daughters of Ierusalem, but her Beloved, who had a more curious eye, doth both commend her loveliness and admire it: ch. 6. 4, 5. Thou art beautiful O my Love as Tirzah, comely as Ierusalem: Turn away thine •yes from me, for they have overcome me, and ver. 10. VVho is this that looketh forth as the Morning, fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun, and Terrible as an Army with Banners? But what beauty is there then in the Beloved? if the Church be beau∣tiful beyond all other of the Children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ from whom the Church doth derive all its come∣liness? He is said to be White and Ruddy, that shews the beauty of his Face; and his Countenance is said to be as Lebanon, and like the lofty Cedars thereof, that shews the Majesty of his Face. His Mouth is said to be most Sweet; and sweet it is in∣deed, in regard of the Gracious words which proceed from it; no Doctrine so sweet as Christ's Doctrine, no Precepts so sweet as Christs Precepts, no Promises so sweet as Christs Promises. But to sum up all Excellencies and Perfections in a word he is said to be altogether Lovely,Page 25 there is no Person or Thing in the World that is most lovely, which can properly be called altogether lovely: Many defects may be found in the most amiable persons, and much insufficiency may be found in the most desirable things; but Christ is altoge∣ther lovely; unlovely in no respect, there being no Spot or Blemish, no Defect or Imperfection to be found in him: and he is lovely in every respect, there is an in∣comparable and Transcendent amiableness in Christs person in every regard. In the person of Christ the Humane Nature and the Divine Nature are in Conjunction, he is most lovely in regard of both. His Humane Nature is compounded of Body and Soul. His Body is most Beautiful, a most Glorious Beauty and lustre is put upon it: whatever it were in his state of humiliation, be sure it hath a Glorious Beauty now in his state of Exaltation. It is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Glorious Body, Phil. 3. 21. If the Face of Moses did shine with resplendent Glory, after his conversing Forty dayes with God in Mount Sinai which was Below; how doth the Body of Christ shine, which hath been above Sixteen hundred years in Mount Sion which is Above? I am per∣swaded that Christs Body is the most Beautifull of all Visible Creatures. But Page 26 the Beauty of Christs Soul doth Excel: No creature whatever, hath such shining Excellencies as are in the Soul of Christ, All the Excellencies that are, or ever were in any creature, are like a Feather laid in the Ballance with the exceeding weight of his Glorious Excellencies and Perfections. Christ Excelled the most Excellent Men that ever lived, as to Spiritual Endow∣ments, when he was here upon the Earth: He Excelled Moses in Meekness, Solomon in Wisdom, Iob in Patience; and how much doth he Excel now he is in Heaven? He Excelleth not only the Spirits of just men made Perfect, but also the most glo∣rious and Holy Angels that never sinned. If any creatures have Wisdom, it is but a Beam, Christ is the Sun; If they have Goodness, it is but a drop, in Christ is the Ocean; If they have Holiness, it is but a Spark or dark shaddow, Christ is the Brightness of his Fathers Glory: If they have the Spirit, they have it but In some measure, the Spirit is given to Christ with∣out Measure Ioh. 3. 34. Christ is most lovely in his Manhood, so nearly united unto his Godhead; and how lovely is he in his Godhead? as God he is Equall in all Glo∣rious Excellencies with the Father. Christs Godhead implyeth Excellency of Being, Page 27 he calleth himself I am, Ioh. 8. 28. Excel∣lency of Glory, therefore called the Lord of Glory, 1 Cor. 2. 8. and King of Glory, Psal. 24. 7. Lift up your heads O yee Gates, and be ye lift up, ye Everlasting Doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. This is Interpreted by some, to be spoken of Christs Ascension, and the Angels and Saints making way for his Triumphant Entrance, and Possession of his Heavenly Pallace. Many Descriptions are given in the new Testament, of this lovely Person; I shall mention only one, Col. 1. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Who is the Image of the in∣visible God, the First-born of every crea∣ture; For by him were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, Visible and Invisible, whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers: all things were made by him and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the Head of the Body, the Church: who is the beginning, the First-born from the Dead, that in all things he might have the Preeminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell. If we read, believe and consider this great Descripti∣on of Christ, we must needs see and say, that Christ is most Excellent and Amiable, Page 28 and that no beloved is like to the Beloved of true Christians: therefore it is that true Christians do love Christ, because of his loveliness.
Rea. 3. True Christians do love Christ, because of His love. His love which he doth bear to them. He loves them with a First love, and with a Free love; He loves them with a tender and compassionate love, with an active or doing love, with a passive or suffering love: His love is Infinite with∣out Bounds or Limits; it is Superlative without comparison; Transcendent beyond comprehension; Everlasting without change, and which will have no end or conclusion. He lov'd them when they were polluted in their sins, and washt them with his own blood; he loved them when they were Naked in their Souls, and clothed them with the Robes of his Righteousness; He loves them in their sickness and sorrows, and is their Com∣forter; He loves them in their wants and Straits, and is their Benefactor, He loves them in Life, and is the Life of their Souls; He loves them at Death, and is the Stay of their Hearts; And he loves them after Death, and will be their Portion for ever. There is great Reason that true Christians Page 29 should love Christ, because of his loveli∣ness; and there is further reason that they should love him, because of his love, espe∣cially when both are incomparable, both are incomprehensible. I shall further speak (God willing) unto both these with other reasons, under the motives in the Exhor∣tation to excite Christians to the love of Christ.
Vse 1. FOR Information hence learn, that there are but few true Christians in the world, because there are so few that love this unseen Christ. There are many Christians in Name, few Christians in deed and in truth. The time hath been when openly to profess the Name of a Christian, did argue true love unto Jesus Christ; I mean in the Primitive times, when Christians were Persecuted by the Heathens, as in the Ten first dreadful Per∣secutions under the Heathen Emperours; when the world was watered with Christi∣an blood, then especially at some times and in some yea most places, whoever openly acknowledged themselves to be Christians Page 30 they exposed themselves unto Imprison∣ments, Racks, Tortures, Burnings and the most cruel deaths; It was the Truth and Strength of Love unto Jesus Christ, which carried them thorow such great suf∣ferings, as many did in those dayes un∣dergo for the sake of Jesus Christ: But now there are Multitudes of bare nominal Christians, they call themselves Christians being baptized in Christ's name, but they are altogether without love to Christ, whose Name they bare: Surely there are but few, not only in the Christian World, but even in England (where Christianity is to be found in as great purity as in any place) that love Jesus Christ in sincerity. No grossely ignorant persons do truly love Christ; such as don't know Christ, they can't love him; ignoti nulla cupido, there is no desire after, nor love unto an unknown thing: An unknown evil cannot be hated, and an unknown good cannot be loved. No grossely Erroneous persons, do truely love Christ; such as do not receive Christ's Truths, they cannot love Christ's Person: Joh. 14. 23. If any man love me he will keep my words. The words of Christ do include, not only the words of his Pre∣cepts, but also the words of his Doctrine; Such as erre grossely, I mean in the Funda∣mental Page 31 Truths of Christianity, they are no friends to Christ, but his Enemies, so far are they from true love unto him. No grossely wicked persons, do truly love Christ; such as profane persons, who Blaspheme the name of God in their hide∣ous Oaths; the love of Christ doth teach an Holy Awe and Reverence of Gods Name; such are Persecuters of Gods peo∣ple for Righteousness sake. How can they love the Head, that hate the Members? Christ accounteth himself to be persecuted, in the perseution of his Members; Act. 9. 4. Saul, Saul, why persecut est thou me, and v. 5. I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: and surely persecutors of Christ do not love Christ. Such are Scoffers at Religion, who deride Holiness and mock at the name of a Saint or Godly person, whereby they evidently shew their contempt of the Holiness of Christ, from whom the Saints derive all theirs; and how can they love Christ that do contemne him and his Image. No un∣righteous persons do truly love Christ, whether they be so in regard of distributa∣tive justice, or in regard of commutative justice; whether they be unrighteous in Execution of judgement, in distribution of Rewards or Punishments, & whether they Page 32 be unrighteous in their Traffick and Deal∣ing•; Christ strictly requireth justice and Righteousness, and how can they love him, that do not keep this Commande∣ment? No Covetous persons do truly love Christ; the Apostle saith, 1 Joh. 2. 15. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And I may say that if any man love the world, (that is, with his chief love) the love of the Son is not in him; the love cannot be chiefly set upon things below here on Earth, and up∣on Christ who is above in Heaven. No Licentious persons do truly love Christ: no Drunkards, Adulterers, or any that indulge themselves in unlawful delights; the love of Christ doth teach us to deny such Lusts, and to Mortifie them. No meer civil persons that are unconverted, no Hypocrites that have a forme of Godli∣ness, but are without the power of it, do truly love Christ: the former may be loving and courteous unto men, but they have no love to Christ; the latter may Pro∣fess love to Christ, and Seem to love him, but they do not really love him. In a word none who are under the reigning power of any sin, do truly love Christ: The Reign of sin is in the heart, and this is inconsistent with the love of Christ in the Heart. Now Page 33 let us separate all these forementioned per∣sons, from the rest; Grossely Ignorant per∣sons, grossely erroneous persons, grossely wicked persons, the Profane, the Perse∣cutors of Gods people, the Scoffers at Religion, all Unrighteous persons, all Co∣vetous Persons, Drunkards, Adulterers, and all Licentious Persons; meer Civil persons, Hypocrites, and all that are un∣der the reigning power of sin, and how few will there be left that do truly love Christ! and by Consequence there will ap∣pear but very few that are true Christi∣ans.
Vse. 2. FOR Examination. Here you may know whether you are true Christians by the Tryall of your love unto Jesus Christ. Examine your selves therefore, whether you love Jesus Christ whom you have never seen; the most in the world do love truly those persons and things only which they have seen; but can you say that you sincerely and chiefly, do love Jesus Christ whom you have not seen? the love of the most doth arise from the notice which the Eye doth give of the Page 34 Objects beloved; but doth your love a∣rise from the notice which the Ear hath giv∣en by the word, of the Amiableness which here is in Christ?
Qu. How may we know whether we have true love to Iesus Christ?
Ans. You may know the truth of your love to Jesus Christ, 1 By your desires after Christs presence. 2 By your prizing and frequenting those wayes wherein Christ is to be found, and seeking him there∣in. 3 By your love of Christs image. 4 By your Obedience to Christs Com∣mandements.
First, By your desires after Christs Pre∣sence; wherever there is a great love to any person, there is a desire after the presence of that person: do you sincerely and ear∣nestly desire Christs presence? there is a twofold presence of Christ, His gracious presence here, and his Glorious presence at the last day.
1. There is Christs Gracious presence here, Joh. 14. 18. I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. You desire that such Friends and Relations would come unto you, but do you desire chiefly that Christ would come unto you? Page 35 Christ cometh to his Disciples in a way of gracious communication, in a way of Gra∣cious Manifestation, and in a way of sweet Consolation which doth result from both.
1 Do you desire that Christ would come unto you in a way of Gracious communi∣cation? are your desires after communica∣tion of Spiritual Light from Christ to teach and guide you; of Spiritual Life from Christ to quicken and encourage you, of Spiritual Strength from Christ, to support you under Burdens, and Enable you unto Duties? do you earnestly desire commu∣nications of all kinds, and further de∣grees of grace out of that fullness of Grace which is in Christ? do you Hunger and Thirst after Christs Righteousness, not only that it may be imputed to you for your Justification, but also that it may be more and more imparted unto you for your further Sanctification, that you might be brought and hereby wrought into a more perfect conformity and likeness unto Jesus Christ: this is an Evidence of true love.
2 Do you desire that Christ would come unto you in a way of Gracious Manifesta∣tion? Joh. 14. 21. He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest my self unto him.Page 36 Do you Earnestly desire the fulfilling of this promise? that Christ would discover to you more of the loveliness of his person, and of the love of his Heart? are you grieved when your beloved doth withdraw himself? when the curtain is drawn, and a cloud doth interpose between you and this Sun of Righteousness; when he Hid∣eth and Veileth his Face from you? and do you long after Christs returns, and the Discoveries of himself unto you? Come Lord Iesus, Come quickly; Be as a Roe or young Hart, upon the Mountains of Spices; Leap over the Mountains, and Skip over the Hills, and make haste unto my Soul, which is sick of Love for thee in thy Absence from me: O that I might see thy Face which is so Fair! that I might hear thy Voice which is so Sweet! that I might feel thy Presence which is so Refreshing! O that I might behold thy Heart-ravishing Smiles! Say Lord that I am thine, and thou art mine; that thou hast loved me, and given thy self for me; that thy love to me was from Everlasting, and that it is Vnchangea∣ble. Are these or such like, the breathings of your Souls? Such are the breathings of love to Christ.
3 Do you desire that Christ would come unto you in a way of sweet consolati∣on▪ Page 37 which doth result from this commu∣nication and Manifestation? are you de∣sirous after the Oil of Gladness, which Christ is Anointed withal? that he would give you of the Unction of the Spirit, not only to Sanctifie you, but also to comfort you? do you desire that your Hearts might be filled with Spiritual joyes, the joyes of the Holy Ghost, which are un∣speakable and full of Glory? do you de∣sire the comforts which Christ doth give, beyond all the comforts which the World and the Flesh can give? the comforts which come in at the door of Faith, beyond all the comforts that come in at the door of Sense; those joyes which are in Christ, be∣yond all joyes that can be found in the most sweet and desireable creature-enjoyment? this evidenceth true love to Christ. Thus do you desire Christs Gracious presence.
2. And do you desire also Christs glori∣ous presence at the Last day? When he promiseth, Surely I come quickly, can your hearts make answer as Rev. 22. 20. A∣men, even so come Lord Iesus? are you glad you live so near the End of the World, that the Lord is at hand, that the coming of the Lord draweth nearer and nearer every day? can you lift up your heads with joy, when you look towards the Page 38 place where the Lord Jesus Christ is, at the right hand of the Throne of the Ma∣jesty on High; and think with comfort, that yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not now tarry much longer; that within a while Christ will descend from Heaven with a shout, the Lord with the Sound of the Trumpet, and that your Eyes shall see him in the bright∣ness of his Glory and Majesty? Do you look and long for the day of Christ's glo∣rious appearance from heaven, when you shall be awakened out of your Graves (where you may take a short sleep before) and be gathered together by the Angels, and be caught up in the clouds, and there (in shining Garments of Immortality on your Bodies and of Christs unspotted Righteousness in your Souls) be brought with Shoutings and Acclamations of Joy and Triumph into his Presence, who will then acquit you Graciously from all Sin and Punishment, own you openly for his Faithful Servants, crown you Gloriously before the whole World, and receive you to Live and Reign with him to all Eternity? Have you such desires as these? If some of you say, you are afraid of Christs Glo∣rious appearance, lest then you should be rejected because you fear you are not rea∣dy Page 39 and prepared; yet can you say also from your Hearts, that you Desire above all things that you may be ready, that you Endeavour to make ready, that it is your Grief you are no more ready, and that if you were ready, and were assured of your Interest in Christ, you could desire that Christ would come immediately; and that you desire no greater Happiness and Fe∣licity, than to live with Christ in Glory; and that you account the Presence of Christ in Heaven to be the Happiness of Heaven? These are Evidences of true desires after Christ's Glorious presence, and of sincere love to Christ.
Secondly, You may know your love to Christ, by your Prizing and Frequent∣ing those wayes wherein Christ is to be found, and seeking him therein. Such are the wayes of his Ordinances both pub∣lick and private. Christ's way is in his Sanctuary, and in his Ordinances he may be found; do you give your attendance unto Ordinances, Publick prayer, the Preaching of the word, the Sacrament of the Lords Supper? and do you prize these Ordinances because of the Stamp of Christ's Institution upon them, because of Christ's presence in them, and because they Page 40 are a meanes of bringing you and Christ together? and when you are under Ordi∣nances, do you diligently seek after Christ in Ordinances? Don't you rest in the out∣side and carnall part of Ordinances, in meeting with Gods People there? or do you design, desire and endeavor after some∣thing more inward and Spiritual and in∣comparably sweet, that you meet with Christ there, that you may have Fellow∣ship with the Father and the Son therein? and upon this account can you say as Da∣vid, How amiable are thy Tabernacles O Lord! and A day in thy Courts is better than a Thousand, Psal. 84. 1, And, One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the dayes of my life, to be∣hold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his Temple; Psal. 27. 4. Do you also seek after Christ in your Families, and in your Closets? do you seek him in secret prayer and meditation? your love to Christ doth express it self in your desires; your desires do shew themselves in your seeking after Christ in his wayes.
Thirdly, you may know your love to Christ, by your love of Christ's Image: there is the Image of Christ on his Word, Page 41 and there is the Image of Christ on his People.
1. Do you love the Image of Christ on his Word? as Caesar's Coin did bear Cae∣sar's Image and Superscription, so the Word of the Scriptures, which is the Word of Christ, doth bear Christ's Image and Superscription. Do you love the Scriptures because of Christ's Image which is upon them? do you love the Word of Doctrine in the Scripture, because of the Image of Christs Truth and Wisdom upon it? do you love the Word of Pre∣cepts in the Scriptures, because of the Image of Christ's Holiness upon it? do you love the Word of Threatnings in the Scriptures, because of the Image of Christ's Righteousness upon it? do you love the Word of Promises in the Scriptures, be∣cause of the Image of Christ's Goodness, Grace and Love upon it? You have Christ's Word in your Bibles, and some∣times sounding in your Ears, but doth the Word of Christ dwell in your Hearts? you receive Christs word in the Light of it, do you receive his Word in the Love of it?
2. Do you love Christ's Image on his People? If you love not your Brother whom you have seen, how can you love Page 42 your Lord whom you have not seen? All Christ's Disciples do bear Christ's Image; if you love the Original you will love the Picture, although it be but imperfectly drawn; If you love the perfect Goodness and Holiness which is in Christ, you will love the Goodness and Holiness which you see in the Saints, although they have it but in an imperfect Measure: do you love Christ's Disciples • and that because of Christ's Image, although they differ from you in some opinions which are circum∣stantial?
Fourthly, You may know your love to Christ, by your Obedience unto his Com∣mandements, Joh. 14. 15. If you love me keep my Commandements; and ver. 21. He that hath my Commandements and keep∣eth them, he it is that loveth me. You Have Christ's Commandements, do you Keep them? you Know them, do you Practice them? your Love to Christ is known by your Obedience unto Christ. If Christ be your Beloved, he is also your Lord; if you have true affection for him, you yeild Subjection unto him: If you Love Christ, you are carefull to Please Christ; you are not the Servants of the Flesh, to take care to please the Flesh; Page 43 but you are the servants of Christ, to take care above all persons and all thing to please Christ; if you love Christ you are fearful of giving just occasion of of∣fence unto men, but above all you are fearful of displeasing and offending your Lord. Do you labour so to walk that you may please Christ in the way of sin∣cere and universal obedience? are you hearty in your obedience unto Christ? have you a respect to all his Command∣ments? is it your greif that you fall short in your obedience unto Christ? if you can say in the presence of the Lord, and your hearts do not give your tongues the lye, that you don't live and allow your selves in the practice of any known sin which Christ forbiddeth, nor in the neg∣lect of any known duty which Christ com∣mandeth, this is a sure evidence of true love to Jesus Christ. Thus for the tryal of your love unto Christ.
Vse 3. FOr reproof.
1. Of all such as have no love at all unto this unseen Christ; and will not the use of Information, together Page 44 with the use of tryal leave a conviction up∣on many of you that you are without this love? Suffer then the word of reproof; what, are you Creatures made By Christ, and made For Christ, and yet have no love to him? are you Rational Creatures, have you souls capable of knowing him and loving him, and yet have no love? are you Christians and not love Christ? baptized in Christ's Name, and yet have you no love to Christ's person? are some of you Professors, and yet not love Christ? make a show of devotion, and yet with∣out any true affection to the object of your worship? Sinners though you have not seen Christ, yet have you not heard of him? and have you not heard enough to engage and draw forth your love unto Christ. What do you think? is there such a person as Jesus Christ, or is there not? have you no Bibles? and if you have, have you not read therein the Hi∣story concerning Jesus Christ? and what do you think of that History, is it true or is it false? do you think the Gospel to be a cunningly devised fable? are not the Scriptures which contain this Gospel, the very word of the true God who cannot lye? are there not such characters of Di∣vinity upon them, as are sufficient to e∣vince Page 45 their divine original to any that search into them, and do not willfully shut their eyes against the light which there doth shine? And if it be so that there is indeed such a person as Jesus Christ (as there is nothing more true) how is it that you have no love unto him? do not the Scriptures reveal and set forth Christ, as the most excellent and amiable person? and yet do you not love him? can you love persons and things that are but Im∣perfectly lovely, and not love Jesus Christ who is Altogether lovely? can you love one of great honour that hath but some in∣ferior power and authority, and not love Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of Glory, who hath All power and authority both in Heaven and Earth? can you love such as have Wisdom and Learning though it be terrene, and not love Jesus Christ who is the wisdom of the Father, who knoweth all things, and whose wisdom is divine? can you love such as are liberal and boun∣tiful, and not love Christ whose bounty is superlative, and whose gifts are most rich and transcendent? can you love friends that are kind, and not love Jesus Christ who is the best friend that ever the chil∣dren of men had? can you love a Bene∣factor that feeds you, and cloathes you, Page 46 and giveth money to you, and yet not love Christ who offereth to feed your hun∣ger-starv'd souls with the bread of life, to cloth your naked souls with the robes of His Righteousness, and to give the spi∣ritual Riches of Grace to you, the least dram of which is of more worth than all the riches of the Earth? can you love Riches and not love Christ in whom there are treasures, and by whom you may have not only spiritual riches here, but al∣so the heavenly inheritance hereafter? can you love honours, and not love Christ by whom you may have the highest digni∣ties, the honour of children to the King of Heaven now, and a Crown of Glory in the other world? can you love liberty and not love Christ by whom you may be made free from the Slavery of the Devil and your own lusts? can you love safety & not love Christ who is the only Saviour of mankind, and who alone puts you in safety from the reach of the worst of Enemies, & the worst of Evils? can you love peace and not love Christ by whom you may have peace with God, and peace in your own conscience? can you love pleasures and delights, and not love Christ by whom you may have joys unspeakable and full of glory, besides those everlasting plea∣sures Page 47 which are to come? without love to Christ you are under the guilt of all your sins; neither your orginal sin, nor any of your actual sins are pardoned, they all lye upon your own score, and you must answer for all your selves, and how fearful is your account like to be! with∣out love to Christ you are under the curse, not only under the curse of the Law for your breach of the Law, but also under the curse of the Gospel for disobedience to this command of the Gospel which re∣quireth you to love the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 16. 22. If any man love not the Lord Iesus Christ, let him be Anathama Maranatha, that is, let him be cursed, till the Lord come, and when the Lord com∣eth will he take off the curse from you? no, he will come in flaming fire to take vengeance upon you, having threatned then to punish all such with everlasting de∣struction, as shall be •ound to have diso∣beyed the Gospel; and what then is like to become of you? Sodom and Gomorrha those wicked Cities will then be punished dreadfully, with a worse fire than that which was rained down from heaven, and consumed their persons & habitations to∣gether; I mean, with the fire of Hell, which will be kindled and kept alive un∣to Page 48 Eternity by the breath of the Al∣mighty; but you who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ notwithstanding all dis∣coveries of him, invitations to him, and proffers of kindnesses by him, you will be punished more dreadfully than the wick∣ed Sodomites. it will be more tollerable in the day of Judgment for them than for you; the torments of Hell will be intolle∣rable by any, but they will be most in∣tollerable by Gospel-sinners; the fire of Hell will burn upon you the most fiercely, and the scourge of Conscience will lash you the most furiously. Consider this all yee that have no love to Christ, otherwise when he cometh to judgment he will tear you to pieces and there will be none to de∣liver you: if you have not the sweet fire of love to Christ enkindled in your hearts here, you will be thrown into the dread∣full fire of Hell which will burn you Ever∣lastingly.
2. This reproves such of you as have some love, but it is very little love to Je∣sus Christ; you that love Christ, is not your love very small, not only in compa∣rison with the love to you, but also in comparison with the love which some Christians have attained unto? how strong was the love of the Apostles unto Page 49 Christ when they left all and followed him! especially after the resurrection of Christ and his Ascention into Heaven, when the Holy Ghost was sent down and sat in the likeness of fiery tongues upon them: O! what a fire of love unto Christ was there then enkindled within them. Hence that bold profession which they make of Christ before the chief Priests and Elders, Act. 4. Hence their rejoycing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, when they were beat∣en for their owning and preaching of him. Act. 5. 41. The love of Peter and Iohn was great unto Christ, and the love of Paul was not inferiour unto the love of the chiefest Apostles; hence it was that he took such pains to preach the Gospel in so many parts of the world even from Ieru∣salem & round about unto Illyricum, Rom. 15. 19. See also how he approves himself to be a Minister of Christ, and giveth evi∣dences of his strong love to his Master, 2 Cor. 11. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. Are they Ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool, I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in Deaths oft: of the Iews five times received I forty stripes save one: Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned, Page 50 thrice I suffered Shipwrack, a Night and a Day I have been in the deep, in journey∣ing often, in perils of Waters, in perils of Robbers, in perils by mine own Countrey∣men, in perils by the Heathen, in perils in the City, in perils in the Wilderness, in perils in the Sea, in perils among false bre∣thren: in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Be∣sides those things which are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches; who is weak and I am not weak? who is offended and I burn not? and chap. 12. 10. I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecuti∣ons, in distresses for Christs sake. The ground of all which was the love of Christ which did constrain him, as 1 Cor. 5. 14. he had such a love to Christ that he pro∣fesseth, Phillip. 1. 21. To me to live is Christ, and to dye is gain. Christ was his life, and his life was wholy at Christs devotion.
But where is such love now to be found? I might speak also of the love of some ancient Fathers, Ignatius, Polycarp, Ierome and others: take one instance in Ierome, who thus expresseth his love un∣to Christ, If my Father were weeping on Page 51 his Knees before me, my Mother Hanging on my Neck behind me, my Brethren Sist∣ers and Kinsfolk Howling on every side, to retain me in a Sinfull course; I would sling my Mother to the Ground, run over my Father, despise all my Kindred, and tread them under my Feet, that I might run unto Christ. How little is your love in comparison with the love of those Famous Hero's, I mean those eminent Martyrs, who have despised the Flames, and endur∣ed such Racking and Torturing Deaths, for the love which they have born unto Jesus Christ; the fire of their Love burn∣ing stronger within them, than the fire without them in which their Bodies were consumed? Is not your love also small in comparison with the love of our late Reformers, which fired them with such courage and resolution, as to withstand a whole world of Antichristian Fury and Opposition? Is your love comparable to that of many Eminent Divines, and pri∣vate Christians of our own Nation, of the Age immediately going before, who are now asleep in their Graves; but how few are there come up in their Rooms? It is observed, and it is greatly to be Lament∣ed, that there is of late years, a great decay in the Power of Godliness, amongst Page 52 those that are Sincere; and is it not evi∣dent in the great Decay of love, even in true Christians unto Jesus Christ? are not you Dwarfs in comparison with o∣thers? are not you Babes in Christ, and Weaklings in your love to Christ? Is it not evident, that you have but little love to Christ, when he is but little in your Thoughts and Meditations? the Thoughts are the Handmaids of the Love; where the Love is strong and ardent, there ma∣ny thoughts will be attending upon it: but will not your Hearts tell you, that your Thoughts of Christ are very few? you can think often of your Food, but how little do your Thoughts seed upon Christ, who is the Bread of Life? You can often think of your Rayment, but how little do you think of the Robes of Christ's Righteousness? You can think often of your Earthly Friends, but how little do you think of Jesus Christ, your Friend in Heaven? Objects of Sense are often not only in your Eyes, but also in your Thoughts; but how little is Christ enter∣tained in your Thoughts, who is the Ob∣ject of Faith? Moreover, doth it not argue little Love to Christ, that you speak so little of him and for him, in your con∣verse one with another? If you had much Page 53 Love to Christ, would not this Love breath forth more in your Discourses? You can readily speak of your selves, and do often either Directly or Obliquely commend your selves, which discovers your great Self-love; how little do you commend your Lord and Master, and Ex∣toll his excellencies with your lips? and doth not this evidence that you have but little love to him in your hearts? You can readily discourse of News and Pub∣lick Occurrences (which is lawfull and needfull, so that due limits be observed) but when you leave Christ quite out of your Discourse, it shews that you have not abundance of Love to him, because out of the abundance of the Heart the Mouth will speak. Such as have much love to the World, will speak of their Riches; such as have much love to Plea∣sures, will be often speaking of that sub∣ject; such as love their Friends much, will be often speaking and commending of them, when they are in company; and when you speak but little of Christ, it is a sign that you love him but little. Doth not the little Zeal which you have for Christs Honour in the World, argue that you have but little Love to him? where is your activity for Christ to pro∣mote Page 54 his Interest amongst those Relations and Friends, that you have acquaintance with? do you labour all you can, to bring others into the wayes of God, and into acquaintance with Christ? Besides, will not your little secret Devotion, argue your little Affection unto Christ? will not your closets or other retiring places witness how little you are in secret pray∣er and converse with Christ there? Brief and Straitned prayer in secret, doth argue a Heart Straitned in love to Jesus Christ. Doth not your Backwardness to the Ex∣ercise of this Love to Christ, shew the weakness of your love? how slow of Heart are you to the Love of Christ? how hard to be perswaded? you need not be perswaded to Love your Wives, if they be Kind and Helpful; you need not be perswaded to Love your children, if they be Pretty and Hopefull; you need not be perswaded to Love your Friends, if they be Friendly and Faithful: and yet what∣ever attractives of Love, the most strong of any, be in Jesus Christ, you are back∣ward to this Love.
Need I say more to convince you, that you have but little Love to Christ? will not your own Conscience from these clear Evidences sufficiently witness the thing? Page 55 And now Christians think what a Sin, what a Shame, what a Folly it is, that you should have so little Love unto Jesus Christ: If it be so great a Sin for such as are Strangers unto Christ, to have no Love at all to him, that it brings them under the most Dreadful curse; surely it cannot be a small Sin, that you (who are his true Disciples) should have but little Love unto him; is it not very displeasing to the Father, that you should have but little Love to his Son? if he do not hate you because of your Relation unto Christ; yet, is he not angry with you, for the Lukewarmness of your Affection unto Christ? which Sin is Aggravated by the nearness of your Relation. Is it not Dishonourable unto Christ, that you should have so little Love to him? don't you in Effect say, there is no great worth or Amiableness in him, when you have no great Love unto him? are you not hereby ingrateful unto Christ, beyond what can be perallell'd by any ingratitude unto the most obliging Earthly Friend? Is it not your shame, that you should have so little Love to Christ, when he doth so much deserve your Love? Besides the Infinite Excellencies and Perfections which are in his person; doth not his In∣finite Page 56 Kindness unto you, call for (not only the Truth, but also) the Strength of your Love? Think what he hath Done for you; think what he hath Suffered for you; think what he hath Purchased for you; think what he hath Promised to you; think what he hath Laid out for you; think what he hath Laid up for you; and yet to have but little Love to Christ? yet to make such poor Returns! Moreover, is it not your Folly to have but little Love to Christ? Don't you here∣by bereave your selves, or debarre your selves of such peace as passeth all under∣standing; of such sweetness and comfort both in the strength of your love, and in the sense of His Love, as is inconceiva∣ble? is not Injury and Mischeif unto your selves, the consequent of your little Love unto Christ? must you not draw on Hea∣vily in the wayes of God, as Pharoah when his chariot-wheels were taken off? Love to Christ is like wheels, in your mo∣tion for Christ, and like Oil to the wheels, which makes you ready unto any good work which he doth call you unto; but when you have but little Love unto Christ, you must needs be more slow in your mo∣tions, more sluggish in Christ's service; you will not, you cannot take that pains Page 57 in the work of the Lord, and be so Zea∣lous as you might and should be for your Master's Glory.
To Conclude, if you have but little love to Christ, you will be apt to faint in the day of Adversity, to shrink when you are called to take up his Cross and suffer for his sake: lesser sufferings will discom∣pose you, greater sufferings will affrighten and amaze you, and you will be in dan∣ger of turning fearful Apostates in time of great Tryals; there is need of great Love to christ, as well as great Faith, to carry you thorow sufferings with courage that you may persevere unto the end.
Vse 4. FOR Exhortation unto the love of Jesus Christ, whom you have never seen, this is the Use chiefly designed in the choice of this subject, and which I shall most largely insist upon. In the Prosecution of it, I shall give some Motives, and then some Directions.
The Motives to Induce and Excite you unto the Love of this unseen Christ, may be drawn 1. From the consideration of what Christ is. 2. From the considera∣tion Page 58 of Christ's Love. 3. From the con∣sideration of Christ's Benefits. 4. From the consideration of that Love which Christians have, and should have unto Christ.
The first sort of Motives may be drawn from the consideration of what Christ is, and that 1 What he is in Himself. 2 What he is to the Father. 3 What he is unto true Christians.
First, Consider What Christ is in Himself.
In generall, He is the most amiable per∣son and the most sutable Object for your Love. If you ask of the dayes which are past, which were before you, since the day that God created Man upon the Earth; if you seek from one side of Hea∣ven unto the other; if you make enquiry into all the parts of the Earth, you will never find that either there ever was or is to be found any person so lovely, so beau∣tifull and so every way deserving your Love, as the Lord Jesus Christ: there is a Matchless, Transcendent, and Incom∣parable Beauty and Excellency in him. How passionately are some Foolish Men in Love with the externall beauty which they see in some Women: the exact Sy∣metry Page 59 of parts, and comely Proportion of the body; the Amiable Features and Lovely Mixtures of colours in the Face, the Beauty of the Eyes, in their Spirit their Quick and Graceful motions, and Amorous Glances; How doth this Ra∣vish the Hearts of some fond Lovers! al∣though the most Beautiful body in the World, is no better than painted clay, dirt and corruption, enclosed in a Fair Skin, which sickness will cause to look pale and Wan, Death will quite Marr and Spoil. But the Amiableness and Beauty of Christ is more Transcendent and Permanent, and therefore a more fit Ob∣ject for your Love. Christ is Fairer than the Children of Men; he is all Fair with∣out any Spot, altogether Lovely without any Blemish or Deformity. I have alrea∣dy spoken of the Glorious Beauty which is in Christ's Glorified Body, the most Lovely of any Visible creature which God hath made; and also of the Shining Excellencies which are in Christ's Glori∣fied Soul, so nearly joyned to the Divini∣ty; could we suppose all the Loveliness that ever was seen, or found in the most lovely persons that ever lived, to meet in one person; how Lovely would that per∣son be! yet such, though never so re∣splendent, Page 60 Beauty, would be but a dark Shaddow, compared with the Brightness of Christ's most Beautifull Person. Can you Love the imperfect Beauty which you see in Creatures, and will you not Love the perfect Beauty which there is in Christ? can you Love a Fading Beauty which soon Withereth like the Flower, and will you not Love Christ, whose Beauty never Decays, but alwayes doth abide more Fresh than Beauty in the Flo∣wer of Youth? can you be soon Affected with Beautiful Objects which are before the Eye of your Sense, and will you not be Affected with this far more Beautiful Object, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is so clearly discernable by the Eye of Faith? If the Eye of your Faith were open and clear, to look upon the Transcendent Ami∣ableness which is in Christ, you could not chuse but Love him: could you see the Glances of his Eye, and the Sweet Smiles of his Lovely Face, as some have seen, your Hearts would be Overcome and Ravished with Love, and filled with Ex∣tacies of Joy and Ineffable Delight.
More Particularly, There are the most Amiable Qualifications in Christs Person, to attract and draw forth your Love; I shall instance in these six. 1. His Great∣ness Page 61 and Authority. 2. His Holiness and Purity. 3. His Wisdom and Omnisciency. 4. His Truth and Fidelity. 5. His Ful∣ness and All-sufficiency. 6. His Kindness and Mercy.
1. Consider Christ's Greatness and Au∣thority, Aquila non capit muscas, The Eagle doth not pursue after Flies: Great Souls are not Affected, except it be with Great Things; there is none so Great as Jesus Christ; He is most Great in Hon∣our and Dignity, He is most Great in Power and Authority. Excellency of Ma∣jesty, doth greatly engage the Love, and command the Hearts as well as the Obe∣dience of Subjects: and those Princes that have the greatest Power and Authori∣ty, are the Darlings of the people, when they dont abuse their place by Unrighte∣ousness and Cruelty, by Usurpation and Tyranny. If Power be managed with Clemency, and Authority with Kindness towards those that are under command; so highly do Princes advance themselves hereby in the Esteem and Love of their people, that they will be ready to spend their Estates, and venture their Lives in their Service. Christ is the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, he is clothed with the Highest Honour, Arrayed with the most Page 62 Excellent Majesty, Decked with the larg∣est Power, and invested with the Greatest Authority. He is the King and Lord of Glory, He is Exalted to Higher Dignity than the greatest Potentate that ever lived upon the Earth; yea he is advanced above all Thrones and Dominions, and Princi∣palities and Powers, of the Glorious An∣gels which are in Heaven; All Power is given to him in Heaven and Earth, Mat. 28. 18. He doth what he will in Heaven the Angels are at his Beck, and Execute his Will, go and come at his Command; and he hath Power on Earth; He is the Head of the Church, and Head over all unto the Church; he can Restrain his E∣nemies, and conquer them, and bring them under his Feet at his Pleasure; And whatever severity he doth shew some∣times in Executing his Judgments, and taking Vengeance on the Wicked, he doth never abuse his Power by Unrighte∣ousness: He is most Just towards the worst, and punisheth them here lesse than their iniquities do deserve. But what kindness and clemency doth he shew to his own subjects and people? and will not you have a great love to so great a Per∣son? should not the consideration of the high dignity of your Lord, raise your love Page 63 of him unto a great heighth? when Christ hath such Authority, shall he not com∣mand your hearts? when Christ is invest∣ed with such power that he can defend you against the rage and cruelty of your most powerful and malicious adversaries, will you not love greatly such a Person, as well as trust confidently under the sha∣dow of his Government?
2. Consider Christs Holiness and Puri∣ty, some great Persons who abound in Wealth and Honour, who have some kind of amiable natural qualities, and ac∣quired accomplishments which might render them very useful in their Coun∣tries, yet through their wickedness and debauchery, their filthiness and impurity, their impious and vicious lives, they stain all their other excellencies, and render themselves the objects of contempt and scorn, unto those who otherwise would bear great respect and love to them.
But Christ is most amiable for his Ho∣liness and Purity; he was holy in his birth; although born of a sinful woman, yet he was born without sin; when he lived a∣mongst impure sinners he kept his gar∣ments from all stains and spots, his heart and life were free from all pollutions, and never was he guilty of the least transgres∣sion Page 64 either in action or the least inclinati∣on. O what an excellent Person was Christ when here upon the Earth! how glorious in holiness, what bright beams of perfect purity and exact innocency did Christ scatter in those dark places of the Earth where he lived, and amongst those dark sullied sinners with whom he did con∣verse! how then doth Christ shine in holiness, now he is entred into the Holy of Holies, which is above; and there doth coverse with none but such as are Holy? I know because of Christs Holiness and Purity, he is the object of the hatred and enmity of the wicked and ungodly; be∣cause Christ is an enemy unto their darling and beloved lusts, they have an enmity a∣gainst Christs Person: when he was here be∣low he telleth his brethren, John 7. 7. The World hateth me, because I testifie of it, that the works thereof are evil, and the hatred of the world doth still abide upon the same account; Christ doth reprove the world of sin, and this the world cannot endure and away with; the beams of Christs Ho∣liness doe offend their Sore Eyes, his holy precepts do offend their carnal hearts; yet notwithstanding this, he is a most sutable object for the love of Saints upon the account of his Holiness: such as Page 65 are truely judicious will love them most who are best, and such are really the best Men and Women in the world, as are most holy; if you are Christ's disciples indeed, you love holiness where ever you see it, and can you love the imperfect holiness which is in Gods people, and will you not love Christ who is perfectly, Infinitely holy himself, and the spring of all that holiness, which is to be found in any of the Children of Men? if there be such a wonderful lustre in the derived ho∣liness of some, that it makes them to shine as lights in a dark World, what a wonder∣ful transcendent lustre is there in the origi∣ginal holiness which is in Christ! which as it is matter of great admiration, so it calls for great affection, Psal. 119. 140. Thy word is very pure, therefore thy Servant loveth it. Christ is the Word, not the written Word, but the Essential Word, and he is very pure, therefore you should love him.
3. Consider Christ's Wisdome and Omnisciency. Wisdom doth make the face to shine; Learning doth advance some very highly in esteem; such as know most, if their morals be sutable to their in∣tellectuals, are most admired by those that understand what true worth is; espe∣cially Page 66 if there be spiritual Wisdome in conjunction with natural and acquired, if there be much Grace in the heart as well as much Knowledge in the head, how worthy are such to be beloved? Daniel was a man of great learning and wisdome, skill'd in all the learning of the Chaldeans which was not sinful and di•bolical; and besides this he was endued with divine wisdome by the teachings of the Holy Spirit; the Angel told this Daniel more than once or twice, that he was a Man greatly beloved; he was greatly beloved by the Lord of Heaven, greatly beloved by his Prince on Earth, and greatly belov∣ed by his people, and by all, except some few that envied his prosperity and favor Daniels Wisdom did render him so uni∣versally amiable; How then should Christ be beloved because of his Wisdom and Knowledge! the wisdom of Christ is far beyond the Wisdome of Daniel, or the Wisdom of Solomon who was wiser than Daniel; these men had Wisdome which made them famous and esteemed in their day, but Christ is Wisdome, the Wisdome of the Father; they were chil∣dren of wisdome, but Christ is the Father and Fountain of wisdome; they had some jewels of wisdome, but the treasures of Page 67 wisdome are hid and laid up in Christ, Col. 2. 3. they had learning and knowledge, but their knowledge was Ignorance com∣pared with the knowledge of Christ, the greatest part of the things which they knew, being but the least part of the things which they knew not; they knew some things, but Christ is omniscient and know∣eth all things; they knew many secrets of nature, but Christ knoweth the secrets of Heaven, the mind of God, and nothing is hid from him. How greatly beloved then should Christ belif you are wise you will, if you would be wise you must love Christ who is so Infinitely wise himself, and who alone can make you truly wise.
4. Consider Christs Truth and Fidelity, Truth and Faithfulness are very rare in our dayes, when Falshood and Deceit do so much abound; what was said of old, Isa. 59. 14. 15. Truth faileth and falleth in the Street, the same may be said now; and therefore such as are True without Guile, Faithful without Deceit, are worthy of great esteem and Love. But what Love should you give unto Christ, who is not on∣ly True, but Truth it self; who is most Faithful in all his undertakings and pro∣mises, and never deceived any that put their trust in him, who is often better than Page 68 his word, never worse? you will love a true and faithful Friend, and will you not love a true and faithful Christ, the best Friend of the children of Men? as Christs faithfulness should encourage your confi∣dence in him, so it should endear your love unto him.
5. Consider Christs fulness and All suf∣ficiency. Such as have large and plentiful Estates, are greatly beloved by the poor and indigent, if they find them also to have large Hearts and open Hands ready to di∣stribute unto their wants and necessities; none have such fulness and plenty as the Lord Jesus Christ, and none so willing to communicate of his fulness unto the wants of such as are poor in Spirit, and sensible of their need, Col. 1. 19. It hath pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. There is not only Plenty in him, but fulness: not the fulness of the cistern, but the fulness of the Fountain; not the fulness only of sufficiency for himself, but the fulness of redundancy for his people; not some fulness for some things, but all fulness for all things that are good; not fulness for some time and to continue but for a while, but all fulness doth dwell in him, and abide for all his people through∣out all Generations; and this not to de∣pend Page 69 upon the pleasure of men whose minds may alter, but it hath pleased the Fa∣ther, it dependeth upon the pleasure of the Father who is always the same, and whose good will to his people is unchange∣able. There is a twofold fulness in Christ for his people here; besides his fulness of Glory which hath a reference to Eternity. There is a fulness of Merit, and a fulness of Spirit, 1. A fulness of Merit, in that full and perfect Righteousness which he hath wrought out for them, and which he doth impute unto them for their Justification. 2. There is a fulness of Spirit in Christ, the Spirit being given unto him without mea∣sure, which he doth impart and communi∣cate unto them, for their Sanctification and Consolation. Christians you are emp∣ty, Christ is full; you are poor, Christ is rich; you are indigent, Christ is All-suffi∣cient; and will not you love Christ, who is able to do for you, beyond what you are a∣ble to ask or think, and is as willing as he is able to supply all your Spiritual necessities? will you not love Christ who is an Over∣flowing & Everflowing •ountain of Good, who hath inexhaustible treasures of Graces and Comforts in him, which are set open before you, and unto you, and every day you may freely come and fetch such jewels Page 70 out of this Treasury, as are of higher worth and greater use than any Earthly Riches in the greatest Plenty and abun∣dance?
6. Consider Christs kindness and mercy. All the kindness of Men is unkindness com∣pared with the kindness of Christ, all the Mercies of Men are Cruelty, compared with the Mercies of Christ. He is all kind∣ness, all bowels, all compassion, all pity, all grace, all mercy to miserable lost man∣kind; I shall not enlarge here because this will fall under the second head of Argu∣ments, taken from the consideration of Christs Love. And if you add the kind∣ness and mercy of Christ to all his other ex∣cellencies and perfections, surely he will appear to have incomparably the greatest attractives in him for Love, unto any that have not a very thick veil of unbelief be∣fore their Eyes to hide him from their view.
Secondly, Consider what Christ is to the Father. 1. He is most nearly related to him. 2. He is most dearly beloved by him.
1. Christ is most nearly Related, and with all most perfectly like unto the Fa∣ther. All the Creatures are related to God Page 71 as their Maker, but Gods Children are more nearly related; the Saints are nearly related to God, who are his Children by Adoption and Regeneration; the Angels are more nearly related to God who are his Sons by Creation, and never were se∣parated from him by sin; but the Lord Je∣sus Christ is most nearly related unto God who is his Son by Eternal Generation: thus Christ is the only Begotten Son of God, and doth bear his Image most per∣fectly, being the brightness of his Fathers Glory, and the express Image of his Per∣son. This near Relation of Christ, and his likeness to the Father doth call for your strongest love; if you have reason to ho∣nour the Father, on the same account you have reason to honour the Son; if you have reason to love the Father, you have the same reason to love the Son. You will love the Sons of Princes, and will you not love the Son of God? you will love your own Children who bear your Own Image, and will not you love Christ who is the express Image of God? we read of Christ, Phil. 2. 6. Who being in the form of God, thought it no Robbery to be equal with God. Christ (without Robbery or Derogation unto God) is equal with God in all Glorious Excellencies and Perfecti∣ons, Page 72 and therefore your highest and strongest love is his due, and without rob∣bery you cannot withhold it from him.
2. Christ is most dearly beloved by the Father, 2 Pet. 1. 17. For he received from God the Father, Honour and Glory, when there came such a voice to him, from the Excellent Glory: This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased, he then that is wort•y of the Fathers love, surely is worthy of yours; he that is cheifly be∣loved by the Father should chiefly be be∣loved by you.
Thirdly, Consider what Christ is un∣to all true Christians; if you be such, Christ is your Shepherd, he feedeth you in green Pastures, he hath laid down his life for his Sheep, and will you not love such a Shepherd? he is your Captain who hath conquered all your Enemies for you, and leadeth you on to take the spoils, and will you not love such a leader? He is your Prophet, who teacheth you the most ex∣cellent things that ever were taught, the highest mysteries, the most Glorious Truths, which are of the greatest concern∣ment to know and believe; and he teach∣eth you in the most excellent way by his word and Spirit, opening your understand∣ings Page 73 as well as his Truths, giving you light and an eye to discern this light; and will you not love such a teacher? He is your High-Priest who hath made satisfaction for you, and withall maketh intercession for you, to reconcile •ou unto God and his intercession is incessant and prevalent, and will you not love such an Advocate? He is your King who ruleth you most powerfully and righteously, most Wisely and Graci∣ously, and will you not love such a Sove∣raign. He is your Benefactor the most kind and bountiful, and no gifts are com∣parable unto his gifts, and will you not love such a friend? He is your Brother, and if he be not a shamed to own you for his Bretheren and Sisters, will it not be a shame if you should withhold from him your hearts? He is your Husband, and you are joyned to him by the Spirit and Faith in such Bonds as cannot be broken, and will not you embrace him in the arms of your dearest love? He is your Re∣deemer who rescued and delivered you from Sin and Sathan, from Death and Wrath: He hath redeemed you by price, the price of his blood, and hath he not then given the greatest price for your Love? he hath redeemed you also by conquest, and shall he not make a conquest of your Page 74 hearts? Surely you are altogether un∣worthy of these relations if you do not present Christ with your most endeared and choisest Affections. Thus far the Motives drawn from the Consideration of what Christ is.
THe 2d. sort of Motives to excite your Love to Christ, may be drawn from the consideration of Christs love unto true Christians. If you are Christians in∣deed, Christ loveth you, 1. with the Free∣est Love. 2. With the Truest Love. 3. With the Strongest Love. 4. With the surest Love.
1. Consider that Christ Loveth you with the Freest Love: There are many motives and attractives for your Love to Christ, but Christs love to you is most free; nothing in your selves to draw and engage his love, except deformity and en∣mity to him, except filthiness which he loatheth, and wickedness which his soul hateth be motives. There is no man in the world that loveth you but he find•th or fancyeth some loveliness in you, something Page 75 to be a motive to draw his love to you; witt is a motive to some, wealth to others, beauty to some, strength to others, near Re∣lation to some, dear love to others, liberali∣ty to some, service to others; greatness to some, goodness to others; likeness whether it be in good or evil is a motive to the love of the most; But Christs first love to you, is altogether free, that which is a motive to men and induceth their love to you is no motive to incline the Love of Christ: the sin which you brought into the world with you, and the many sins which since you came into the world have been committed by you, are enough to shut out all motives of Love in Christ, unto whom all sin is so odious and abominable. Whatever mo∣tive induced Christ to love you, it was not drawn from your selves, but it was drawn from his own bowels. And will not this free love of Christ incline you to love him? Doth he love you most freely, and will not you love him most dearly? Did Christ love you without any motive to draw his love? and will not you love Christ in whom there are so many motives to draw your love? Did Christ begin to love, and will not you make a return? Did Christ love you under your deformity, and will not you love him in whom there is such perfect Page 76 beauty? If you now have any spiritual beauty, it is through the comeliness which Christ hath put upon you, but Christs first love was free, which is Matter of the greatest admiration, and should be a Mo∣tive unto the greatest Affection.
2. Consider that Christ loveth you with the Truest love: There is little true love in the world, you have many that truly hate you, few that truly love you: and there is much dissimulation in the pretended love and affection of some; all that Flatter you do not truly love you; love in shew and outward appearance, in good words and fair speeches is common, but love in deed and in truth, that evidenceth it self in real offices of Love, where there is the greatest need, this is rarely to be found. Iob com∣plaineth, Iob 6. 15, 16, 17. My brethren have dealt deceitfully like a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; which are blackish by reason of the ice, and where∣in the snow is hid; what time they wax warm they vanish, when it is hot they are consumed out of their place. In the pro∣sperity of Iob he had many friends, and their love and friendship did seem to have some strength and consistency, like the ice upon the brook; but when heat of trou∣ble Page 77 and calamity came upon Iob, then the love of his friends did melt and vanish away like ice and snow before the warm beams of the Sun: the Love of the most is selfish, for their own ends, and there∣fore when their love is not like to be be∣neficial, but rather create trouble and pre∣judice to themselves, it cometh to nothing. True Christianity doth teach another kind of Love, and those that are powerfully Re∣ligious have a true love, which is ready to shew it self most in an Adverse estate. But none do or can love you with such a true love as Jesus Christ; there is no flattery or dissimulation in his Love, his love is not in the least counterfeit, it is not in the least selfish and for his own ends; he doth not love you to Receive good from you, but that he might Do good unto you: He love∣eth you not onely in Prosperity, but chiefly He doth evidence his love in Affliction and adversity. He is a present help in the time of trouble, and then doth give the most tender demonstrations of his Love; he is touched with the feeling of your infirmities when you are tempted, and sympathizeth with you in your sorrows when you are af∣flicted; He shewes his Love in visiting you under your troubles, in supporting you, in relieving you, and in delivering you, Oh! Page 78 what Love should you have unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who Loveth you with such a True love?
3. Consider th•t Christ Loveth you with the Strongest Love. His love is more strong than▪ Death, more ardent than the Fire, which hath a most vehement Flame. The strength of Christs Love to you doth shew it self in the activity of his Love, in his Doing for you; and this will appear in three things, 1. In what he hath done for you, 2. In what he is doing for you. 3. In what he will do for you.
1. The strength and activity of Christs Love to you, doth shew it self in what Christ hath done for you; I shall briefly name some particulars. 1. It was the strong Love of Christ which brought him down from heaven for you, to assume your Nature, what manner of love was this that God should become man! that Spirit should become flesh, that he who made the world should be born of a mean Virgin, and all for your sakes! 2. It was the love of Christ which made him to fullfil all righte∣ousness for you; He yielded perfect obe∣dience to the Law both Moral and Cere∣monial, that you might have the benefit of Page 77 it. It was the Love of Christ which made him submit himself to the temptations of the Devil for you, that he, suffering be∣ing tempted, might be able to suc∣cour you when you are tempted. 4. It was the Love of Christ which made him endure the contradictions of sinners for you; he bore many affronts, contumelies, envyings and blasphemies of wicked men, that he might give you an example how to carry your selves under the like circum∣stances. 5. It was the Love of Christ which made him lay down his Life for you, Ioh. 15. 13, 14. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend: ye are my friends. That such a person as Christ, so excellent, so in∣nocent, should undergo death, and such a death as that of the Cross, so disgraceful, so painful; that he should submit to such Ignominy, and endure such Agony, such tearings in his flesh, such pressures in his spirit, and that with such resolution and willingness, with such submission and pati∣ence, and that for such as you, although now his friends, yet whilst in a state of Nature strangers and enemies; here was Love stronger than death! Oh the height! Oh the depth of this Love! There are such dimensions in this love of Christ, as Page 80 the longest line of your most extended thoughts and imaginations can never be able to reach and measure. 6. It was the Love of Christ which raised him again from the dead for you, Rom. 4. 25. Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. 7. It was the Love of Christ which carryed him up from earth to heaven, where he was before for you, Ioh. 16. 7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.
2. The strength and activity of Christs Love to you doth shew it self in what he is Doing for you. 1. He is interceding for you at the right hand of God; Rom. 8. 34. Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. It is through Love that Christ doth plead for you in Heaven, that your persons may be accepted, your sins pardoned, your prayers answered, and that the Holy Ghost may be sent down to you to teach sanctifie and comfort you. 2. He is preparing a place for you, Ioh. 14. 2. In my fathers house there are many Page 81 Mansions, if it were not so I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. It is through love that Christ as your fore∣runner is for you entred into the glorious Palace that is above, to take possession of it for you, and to prepare places there for your reception.
3. The strength and activity of Christ's love to you doth shew it self in what he will do for you. 1. He will keep you in his hand that none shall pluck you thence, Ioh. 10. 28. They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Because you are received into the arms of his love, therefore you shall be kept by the hand of his power, and therefore you shall never either finally or totally fall a∣way. 2. Christ will make all things work together for your good, Rom. 8. 28. And we know that All things work together for good to them that love God. Christ hath an endeared love to all you that love God, your love being the fruit of his; and when Men and Devils conspire together to do you mischief, Christs love will turn it un∣to your spiritual advantage. 3. Christ will stand by you in trouble and at death, Iohn 14. 18. I will not leave you comfort∣less, I will come unto you. When affliction doth arise, especially if it be for his sake & Page 82 you are bereaved of all outward Comforts, Christ will not leave you comfortless, when friends fail, and flesh fails, and Heart fail, yea and life fails, Christ will not fail, but will stand by and strengthen you, and be a light to you in your darkest hours, a stay to your Spirits when they are ready to sink within you. 4. After death Christ will take care of your Souls, he will not suf•er them to wander they know not whither, he will not suffer the Devil to seize on them as his prey, but he will send his An∣gels to conduct and convey them into the heavenly paradise, that where he is there they may be also, Luk. 16. 22. And it came to passe that the Beggar died and was carryed by the Angels into Abrahams bo∣som, 2 Cor. 5. 8. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the bo∣dy and present with the Lord. 5. Christ will raise up your Bodies at the last day, if your Bodies should be consumed by Fire, or drowned in the Water, or rot in the Earth, whatever becometh of them, the Lord Jesus at his second glorious appear∣ance will find them and raise them, and transform them into the likeness of his most glorious body, Iohn 6. 40. And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and Believeth Page 83 on him may have Everlasting Life; and I will raise him up at the last day, Phillip. 3. 20. 21. For our Conversation is in Hea∣ven, from whence we look for the Saviour, the Lord Iesus Christ; who shall change our vile Body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious Body. 6. Christ will send forth his Angels to gather you into the society of the Elect that have lived in all Ages and all Parts of the World, and to convey you into his presence, to meet him in the Air when he cometh to Judge the World, Math. 24. 31. And he shall send his Angels with a great sound of a Trumpet, and they shall gather together his Elect from the four Winds, from one end of Hea∣ven unto the other, 1 Thess. 4. 16. 17. For the Lord himself shall descend from Hea∣ven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the Air. 7. Christ will own you, and crown you, and admit you into the Kingdom of Heaven, which he hath prepared for you. Math. 25. 34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye Blessed of my Fa∣ther, inherit the Kingdome prepared for Page 84 you from the Foundation of the World. Here is strong and active love indeed! and shall not the consideration of this love of Christ raise and highten your love unto him? shall it not provoke and excite you unto activity of love, unto the lively and most vigorous exercise thereof? hath Christ united himself to your nature? and shall not your Hearts be united to his Per∣son? hath he fulfilled all Righteousness for you? and will not you fulfill his command of Love? hath he endured such temptati∣ons contradictions and sufferings upon your account and given himself to dye for you? and will not you give your Hearts unto him? hath he risen from the dead, and Ascended into Heaven for you? and will not your Affections arise from the Earth and Ascend into Heaven, where Je∣sus Christ is? Doth he plead in Heaven with the Father for you? and will not you hearken to his pleadings, by his Word and Spirit with you for your love? is he pre∣paring a glorious Mansion for you in his Fathers house? and will not you prepare a place for him and entertain him in the in∣ner room of your chiefest Affections? doth and will he keep you in his hand? and will not you embrace him in your bosoms? will he make all things work together for Page 85 your good? and will not your Affections work towards him? will he stand by you in trouble and at Death? and will not this put life into your love? will he send his Angels to convey your souls into his pre∣sence, when separated from our Bodies? and shall not your Hearts get to him and lodge with him before? will he raise up your Bodies at the last day? and will not the hopes of this raise up your Affections? shall you be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the Air, & will Christ there own and crown you? and will not the be∣lieving fore-thoughts of this ravish your Hearts with love to Christ, and transport you with unspeakable joy? the strength of Christ's love to you methinks should engage your love for him, not only in the the Truth of it, but also in the strength of it.
4. Consider that Christ loveth you with the surest love. Some Friends may love you a while with some kind of strength and ardency, but such differences may arise be∣tween you, as shall soon weaken and cool their love, and of Friends they shall prove strangers, yea become Enemies unto you: or if their love doth abide, it is not sure, because they may not abide; if their Love Page 84〈1 page duplicate〉Page 85〈1 page duplicate〉Page 86 dye not whilst they live, They may soon dye, and then their love is at an end: but the love of the Lord Jesus Christ unto you is the most Sure love: if he begin to love you he will continue to love you; if he love you once he will love you to the end or ra∣ther without end; the love of Christ is not subject to mutations and changes like unto ours; if you 〈◊〉 in your love, he will not fail in his love, and though you offend him, he is not irreconcileable; he may indeed upon unkindness on your side withdraw the manifestations of his love for a while, but he will never wholly remove his love from you, the love of Christ admits of no chang∣ing, knows no ending. Christians, what motives can you find in any person, or any thing in the world which you have seen, comparable to those which you have in this Lord Jesus Christ, though you have ne∣ver seen him; He is a Person most amia∣ble in himself, his Greatness, his Holiness, his Wisdome, his Faithfulness, his Ful∣ness, his Kindness do make him shine with an admirable lustre; his Relation to the Father, and the love which the Father doth bear to him, his Relation unto you, being your Shepherd, your Captain, your Teacher, your Advocate, your Soveraign, your Benefactor, your Brother, your Page 87 Husband, your Redeemer, all these do commend him to your love, but when matchlesse beauty and lovliness do meet in a person that doth bear matchless love to you, when this most amiable Lord Je∣sus doth love you with such a free love, such a cordial love, such a strong and active love, such a sure and constant love; when his love is incomparable, surpassing all other love, and incomprehensible sur∣passing all knowledge. O with what acti∣vity ardour and constancy, should you love so suitable an object!
THe third sort of motives to excite your love unto Christ, may be drawn from the consideration of Christs Benefits. If you are true Christians you have 1. Spi∣ritual Light from Christ. 2. Spiritual Life from him. 3. The Pardon of sin from him. 4. The Robes of Righteousness from him. 5. The Peace of Conscience from him. 6. The Joyes of the Holy Ghost from him. 7. The Riches of Grace from him. 8. The Dignity of Children from him. 9. The Spirit of Prayer from him. 10. Title to the Kingdom of Hea∣ven, Page 88 with the first Fruits and fore-tastes of it from him here, and shall be put into the possession of it by him hereafter.
1. You have Spiritual light from Christ; Christ is the Sun from whom all the beams of this light do come: time was when you were not only in the dark, but darkness; but Jesus Christ did enlighten you, Eph. 5. 8. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are yee light in the Lord; walk as Children of the light: it is Christ that hath turned you from darkness to light, that hath translated you out of darkness into his marvellous light, he hath caused a marvel∣lous light to shine into your minds, where∣by he hath discovered to you the wonder∣ful things of the Law, that thereby you might discern the odious nature of Sin; and whereby he hath discovered to you the wonderful mysteries of the Gospel, that thereby you might discern the excellency of Gospel-priviledges, and the exceeding Riches of Gods Grace and Kindness through Jesus Christ. Christ hath open∣ed your Eyes to see the chiefest evil, that you might be delivered from it, and the chiefest, good and happiness that you might attain unto it. And doth not this light which you have from Christ call for your love? If the man that was born blind, and was cu∣red Page 89 of his natural darkness by Christ, did love Christ for this favour, so as boldly to plead for him before the Pharisees, though he were for it cast out of the Syna∣gogues, as you may read in Iohn 9. How much more reason have you to love Christ, who hath cured you of your Spiritual dark∣ness; which had it continued, you would have gone blindfold to Hell, where there it blackness of darkness for ever?
2. You have Spiritual life from Christ; you were Spiritually dead, and Christ hath quickned you, Eph. 2. 1. You hath he quickned who were dead in sins and tres¦passes. We read that Christ raised Laza∣rus from the dead after he had been buried four dayes, Iohn 11. Lazarus did love Christ before, but no doubt this Resur∣rection of him so wonderfully did endear his love to Christ exceedingly; and shall not Christs raising you up from your Spiri∣tual death, raise your Hearts unto a great height of love to Christ! you will greatly love one that is instrumental to save your natural life, when in great hazard and dan∣ger, especially if he should do it by ventu∣ring his own; and will you not greatly love Christ who hath given you Spiritual life, which is far more excellent than the life of Nature; and when he dyed that you Page 90 might live, and when if you had not re∣ceived this Spiritual life from him, you could not have escaped eternal Death?
3. You have the pardon of sin from Christ; this Christ hath purchased for you, and the purchase hath cost him dear, even his blood which was of more worth than the treasures, were there so many, of ten thousand worlds; this Christ hath sued out for you by his intercession at the right hand of God. Whilst you were un∣der the guilt of sin you were bound over by the Justice of God to suffer the venge∣ance of Eternal Fire; but being pardoned your obligation to future punishment is ta∣ken off, and you are no more lyable to wrath to come, and the vengeance of Hell, than if you had never si•n'd. And will you not love the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath procured for you so great a privi∣ledge? we read of one that had much for∣given her, and she loved much, Luk. 7. 47. and have not you had much forgiven? have not your sins been very numerous, and very heinous? and hath Christ obtain∣ed the pardon of them all? and will not you love Christ much?
4. You have the Robes of Righteous∣ness from Christ: you are born naked of Original Righteousness, and you could Page 91 not work out any actual Righteousness for your selves that might cover your na∣kedness, whatever you wrought your selves it was rags that could not cover you, and it was filthy rags which did pollute and defile you. Christ hath given you the Robes of his perfect Righteous∣ness to cover and adorn you withall, and therein you are accepted as perfectly Righteous in the sight of God. O how should we love the Lord Jesus for this Garment; if your Bodies were naked and one should give you clothes to cover you, especially if they were rich clothes, you would love such a person; and will you not love the Lord Jesus Christ who hath given you a garment to cover your Souls, and that a very rich one, even the Robes of his most pure and unspotted Righteousness which by Faith is put up∣on you?
5. You have peace of Conscience from Christ. This is that peace which the Scripture telleth us passeth all understand∣ing, Phil. 4. 7. It passeth all understanding to know the worth of it; such as have this peace would not leave it upon any ac∣count, they would part with Estate or Li∣berty, or Life rather than part with their peace; and those which have it no•, but Page 92 now do slight and neglect it, yet if they be awakened by the sides of the Grave, and when they are come to the confines of Eternity, then they would value this peace, and would give all the world (were it at their dispose) for it. Th•• Jewel of peace you have from Jesus Christ, he hath purchased it for you, the chastise∣ment of your peace was upon him, and he hath promised and bequeathed it in his last will and Testament unto you, Iohn 14. 27. My Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you. In his reconciling you unto God he hath laid a Foundation for this peace in all you that are true be∣lievers; and if he have moreover spoken peace to you in giving you well ground∣ed evidences of your Reconciliation; if af∣ter raising a Storm, he hath sent a calm into your Spirits, and given a sweet f•renity unto you in the testimony of his Spirit to and with your Spirits that your peace is made with God, O how should this draw sorth your love to Christ?
6. You ha•e the Joyes of the Holy Ghost from Christ. We read of the Thes∣salonians, that they received the Word in much Affliction, with Ioy of the H•ly Ghost, 1 Thess. 1. 6. Such are •hose Joys spoken of in the Text, which are unspeak∣able Page 93 and full of Glory. These are not Car∣nal joys but Spir•tual, which are of a higher nature and sweeter relish, that have a higher object, and are the begin∣nings of Eternal Joys; if you have these joys in any measure, you have them from Chri••; he sends the Holy Ghost from hea∣ven to be your Comforter, to fill your Hearts with Spiritual joys, and shall not your hearts then be fil•ed with love to the Lord Jesus who is the Author of them?
7. You have the riche• of Grace from Christ: if any of you were poor and rea∣dy to starve with hunger and cold, and a rich man should give or send to you a chest full of Gold and S•lver or a C•binet full of Jewels worth many thousand pounds; would you not love such a B•nefactor? the Lord Jesus hath given you the riches of Grace, the least measure of which is really of more worth than the vastest treasures of Gold Silver and precious Stones, that ever was gathered together •nd heaped up by the most wealthy man that ever lived upon the face of the Earth; and will you not love Jesus Christ who hath given you these ine•timable riches?
8. You have the Dignity of Children from Christ; 1 Iohn 3. 1. Behold 〈◊〉 manner of Love the Father hath bestow••Page 94 upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God! this priviledge of Adoption is be∣stowed upon you, not only by the Father, but also by the Son; Iohn 1. 12. But as many as received him, to them gave he Pow∣er to be come the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. We read of some raised from the dust, and lifted up from the dunghill to sit with Princes, Psal. 113. 7, 8. It is a far higher advancement to be lifted up from the d•ng•ill of sin, and of slaves to lu•ts, and Children of the Devil, to be made the So•s and Daughters of the Lord Almighty. This honour have all the Saints, and it is Jesus Christ who hath conferred this honour upon you; and will not this endear your love to Chri•t?
8. You have the Spirit of Prayer from Christ; being Sons, the Spirit of the Son is sent down into your Hearts whereby you are enabled to say Abba Father, Gal. 4. 6. through Christ you have access unto God by the Spirit, Eph. 2. 18. It is the Spirit of Christ which helpeth your infir∣mities in Prayer; that formeth your Pe∣titions, that enableth you to Pray with Faith and Life, and Fervour. Through Christ you have free Admittance to the Throne of Grace, through Christ you have Assi••ance by his Spirit to Pray in Page 95 Prayer; through Christ you have Audience, and Gracious Returns; O how are you be∣holden unto Christ? and how should you love him?
10. You have a Title to the Kingdome of Heaven from Christ. Through Christ you are Children, and through Christ you are Heirs. It is Christ that gives the first Fruits of the Heavenly Canaan, the ear∣nest of the future Treasure and Inheritance which he hath promised, and the fore∣tastes sometimes of those Soul ravishing Pleasures, which the Saints shall have in Fulness, and to Eternity, when they are re∣ceived up into Glory. And it is Christ that hereafter will give Possession unto you, of the Kingdome of Heaven. At the Day of His Glorious Appearance, after he hath owned you before the whole World of Angels and Men, and Honoured you to be His Assessors in His Judging and Condemning the Wicked; he will receive you with Acclamations of Joy and Tri∣umph, into the Glorious Pallace of the New Ierusal•m, where you shall have the Beatifical Vision and Fruition of the Glo∣rious Iehovah, and be made partakers of such Glorious Felicity as hath not now entred into your Hearts to conceive. And will not the Consideration of all this set Page 96 your hearts on fire with love to Christ? Christi••s, is there any Person like to Christ's Person? is there any love like to Chri••'s love? are there any benefits like to Christs benefit•? No no he is imcompa∣rable in all; methinks then you should by this t•me •eel your love to Christ like Fire to burn within with 〈◊〉 flame? or methinks your love to Christ should be like water, I mean the waters of the San∣ctuary spoken of Eze• 4. 7. 3 4, 5. which at en••ance were but to •he Ankles, a little further were up to the Loyns, a little fur∣ther a deep River over the head, where a man might swim; methinks you should perceive an encreasing of your love under these various motives, if your love were more shallow at first, methinks by this time it should have got some depth; when such Winds do blow, the waters should flow and overflow, methinks your love to Christ should be raised unto a high tide, and run with a strong Stream. Thus for the motives drawn from the consideration of Christs Benefits, all which are so many Orators for your love.
THe fourth and last sort of Motives to 〈◊〉 your love to Christ may be drawn from the consideration of that love which Christians have or shou'd have un∣to him; and here consider, 1. The Duty. 2. The Priviledge. 3. The Honour. 4. The Wisdom. 5. The Excellency. 6. The Necessity. 7. The Usefulness. 8. The Delightfulness. 9. The Attain∣ableness of this love to Jesus Christ.
1. Consider it is your Duty to love Christ; if it be your Duty to have a Na∣tural affection unto Parents & Children, it is much more your Duty to have spiritual affections unto Christ; If it be your duty to have conjugal affection unto your Earthly Husband and Wife; it is a greater duty to have conjugal love unto this your heaven∣ly Husband. If it be your Duty to love Brethren, Sisters and Kindred, that love you, it is a greater Duty to love Jesus Chri•t, who loves you above all Relati∣ons; if it be your Duty to love your E∣nemies, it is much more your Duty to love Christ who is your best Friend. It is the will of your Heavenly Father that Page 98 you should love Christ; the Devil would have you •ate him, but God would have you love him, and whether it be most reason that you should obey the Will of God or the Will of the Devil, judge ye. It is the Will of Christ that you should love him; the will of the flesh is against this love, but whose will ought you to comply withall? you are not debters to the Flesh that you should obey it's command, neither are you Debters to any Creatures to give them your choicest affections, but you are debtors unto Christ to give him your chief love: Christ hath most right to your love, and will you not give to Christ his due? if you are bound to give men their due, are you not much more bound to give unto Christ his due? Christs due is your best, and have you any thing better than your Hearts to pre∣sent him withall? will Christ accept of any thing at your hands, should you with∣hold from him your Hearts? had you Thousands of Rams, and ten Thousand Rivers of Oyle to offer to him, had you all the Treasures of the Earth at your dis∣pose, and should lay it down all at his feet, it would be all slighted and disregarded by him, if you give away yours Hearts from him.
Page 99 2. Consider it is your Priviledge that you may love Christ, that Christ will give you leave to do it, and kindly accept of your Love. Should Beggars fall in love with Princes in order to the Marri∣age Union, both their Persons and Love would be rejected with scorn, anger and disdain: There is a far greater distance between you and Jesus Christ, than there is between the highest Prince and the meanest Beggar; and yet the Lord Jesus Christ doth give you leave to love him with a Spiritually conjugal love, in orde• to the nearest Spiritual Union and Con∣junction; and notwithstanding his great∣ness and your meaness, he is not ashamed to give entertainment unto your Love; although you are so mean as Creatures, & have been so vile as Sinners, yet he doht not scorn and disdain you, but both Per∣sons and Love may find ready acceptance with him. It is your duty to love Christ because he commands you, and it is your Priviledge that you may love Christ be∣cause he allows you to do it.
3. Consider it is your Honour to Love Christ. The real Honour of any is not the Noble Blood which runs in their veins the high lineage from whence they are de∣scened, the great Titles with which they Page 100 are Invested, or the most eminent Earthly dignities unto which they are advanced: The Heathen could say, Et Genus et Pro∣avos, et quae non fecimus ipsi vix ea nostra voco; our stock and noble Ancestors, and what we have not done or deserved our selves, we can hardly call our own. And Virtus sola & unica Nobilitas: Vertue is the only true Nobility. And the Scrip∣ture telleth us, that the vilest Men are exalted, Psal. 12. 8. and that the most high ruleth in the Kingdom of Men, aud giveth it to whomsoever he will, and sette•h up over it the basest of Men, Dan. 4. 17. Prin∣ces and Nobles by their Vices and Wick∣ednesses may render themselves more vile then the Earth under their Feet, more base than the mire in the Streets. The Word of God accounteth only them to be truly Honourable, that are truly Graci∣ous; and this Grace of Love to Jesus Christ doth put a great Honour and lustre upon all those that have it. There is no greater and higher object for your love than the Lord Jesus Christ, a person of so great eminency and excellency: the Love of Chri•t doth enoble the Heart, and none in the world have such truely great and generous Souls, as those who have the graeatest love to him. According to the Page 101 Spirit, so is the Man, •ither, B•se or honourable; and according to the chief love, so is the Spirit; if your Heart do chiefly love any inferiour things, as all su∣blunary things are, hereby you are deba∣sed and dishonoured; if your Heart chiefly love Christ who is a Superior good and superlatively amiable, hereby you are dignified and become truly honoura∣ble. We read of Hope (that is the Grace of Hope) that it maketh not asham∣ed, Rom. 5. 5. And the same may be said of this Grace of Love to Jesus Christ, it maketh not ashamed. The most in the World do love those things which one time or other will make them a shamed; the covetous will be ashamed of their love of Riches, and the voluptuous will be a∣shamed of their Love of Pleasures, and the Ambitious will be a shamed of their love of Honours; disappointment of Happi∣ness and true contentment will make all a∣shamed of their inordinate Creature-love, especially when they come to reap the bit∣ter Fruit of their Sin in their Everlasting punishment. Rom. 16. 21. What •ruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed, for the end of those things is Death. But the love of Christ maketh not ashamed, it is no matter of dishonor Page 102 and therefore neither is nor will be matter of shame for any to love Jesus Christ with the greatest Strength and Ardency: if the wicked do despise and scorn Gods people, upon the account of this love, their scorns are their reall Glory, as on the contrary their esteem of any upon the account of sin, is a reall shame and dishonour.
4. Consider, It is your Wisdom to love Christ. Deut. 4. 6. Keep therefore and Do them, for this is your Wisdom and Vn∣derstanding in the sight of the Nations, which shall hear these Statutes, and say surely this great Nation is a Wise and Vn∣derstanding People. None have such Wisdom and Understanding as those who have and keep this Statute and Com∣••ndment to love the Lord Jesus Christ, Psal. 111. 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, a good Vnderstand∣ing have all they that do his Commandments T•e fear of the Lord and the love of Christ are always in conjunction, or rather the former doth include the latter; this is the beginning and cheif part of Wisdom, and those have the greatest Understandings, who have the strongest Affections to the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of Christ is the most reasonable and therefore the most Page 103 wise love. That love is most reasonable, which is chiefly carryed forth towards that object which is most suitable and real∣ly most Amiable; none so suitable and a∣miable an object as the Lord Jesus Christ, as appears in what hath been already said concerning Christs Person, Christs Love, and Christs Benefits. Such as love other persons or things with a cheif love, they are mistaken in the objects of their love, they apprehend more excellency and desirable∣ness in them, than really is in them, and so their love is a foolish love and unrea∣sonable, there being nothing really wor∣thy of it, nothing really amiable in the cheif place beneath and besides Christ. Such as make choice of Christ for the ob∣ject of their chief love, they make the wi∣sest choice, there are really those excellen∣cies in him which they apprehend, and beyond what they can possibly apprehend and conceive. They are fools that are slow of Heart to love Christ, and they are most wise that are most forward unto this love. It is your Wisdom to love Christ cheifly, and to love Christ ardently, such Wisdom as will make your faces shine in the Eyes of good men, and which will put a lustre upon your Spirits in the Eyes of God? True Wisdom doth not Page 104 consist in the invention of curious and quaint Notions, in the framing sound and rational Deductions, in uttering the sense of the mind in neat and florid Expressions; but the cheif Wisdom doth lie in the right placing of the Affections, and none have attained so high a pitch of true Spiritual Wisdom, as those that have attained the highest pitch of love to Jesus Christ. It is matter of great wonder, when there is the greatest reason and the strongest argu∣ments for the love of Christ, that Men of the greatest Parts and Learning, who have heard of Christ, do not readily fall in love with him, and attain higher degrees of this love, than others of a more inferior ca∣pacity: But the Scripture must be fulfill∣ed, Math. 11. 25. I thank thee O Fa∣ther, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Such of you as are but Babes in worldly Wis∣dom and humane Learning, as have but mean natural parts, and no improvement by education, yet if you love the Lord Jesus Christ above all persons and things in the World, you are far more Wise than the greatest Schollars that are with∣out this love.
Page 105 5. Consider the excellency of this Love unto Jesus Christ; as the Knowledge of Christ is the most excellent knowledge, Phillipians 3. 8. Yea doubtless I count all things but loss, for the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Iesus my Lord: So the Love of Christ is the most excellent love. It is a love of the most excellent object, the Lord Jesus who is so Excel∣lent; it is a love of the most Excellent ori∣ginal, it cometh down from Heaven, it is wrought by the Spirit of God; it is a love that renders them most excellent that have it. The wicked that are without this love, are like dross; the Righteous that have it are like Gold; the wicked that hate Christ, are like dirt; the Righteous that love him are like Jewels; other loves do darken and defile, the love of Christ doth brighten the Spirit and renders Men truly illustri∣ous, and the excellent of the Earth.
6. Consider the Necessity of this love unto Jesus Christ.
1. The love of Christ is universally necessary: some of you have need to do this thing, and others of you have need to do that; but all of you have the greatest need to love Christ: some of you have need of this Friend, and to love him, that you Page 106 may keep him, and others of you have need of another Friend, one Friend; can∣not serve the necessities of all; but all of you have need of Christ for your Friend: he is the only Friend that can serve all your necessities, and you have need to love him above all Friends; it is necessary that you who are poor should love Christ, who have but few or no Friends; and it is ne∣cessary that you who are rich should love Christ who have many Friends; Christ being a Friend instead of all to them that have none, and better than all to them that have the most.
2. The love of Christ is absolutely and indispensably necessary: it is not necessa∣ry that you should climb up into a high seat of dignity and honour; but it is ab∣solutely necessary that your Affections should climb up and ascend to Jesus Christ who is above; it is not necessary that you should abound in wealth, that you should have full bags, and full coffers, and much riches in your houses, but it is ab∣solutely necessary that you should have the Riches of this Grace of love to Jesus Christ in your Hearts. Food is not so necessary to satisfie your hunger, clothes are not so necessary to cover you• naked∣ness, houses are not so necessary to shelte•Page 107 you from the injury of the Weather; the most needful thing is not so necessary to you• bodies, as this love to Jesus Christ is necessary to your Souls. You may be poor and in the lowest condition here on Earth, and yet be truly happy whilst you live, and Eternally happy in the other world, if you have this love, to Jesus Christ; but without this love whatever your Riches, and Honours, and Friends, your Earthly delights and enjoyments be though never so desirable, never so plen∣tiful, yet you are miserable, and shall be, miserable. You may love other Persons and Things in the world subordinately, but you must love Jesus Christ cheifly, o∣therwise you are under the curse both of the Law and Gospel, and you cannot e∣scape the vengeance of Hell.
7. Consider the Usefulness of this love unto Jesus Christ.
1. The love of Christ is useful in Pro∣sperity to ballast the Heart, that it be not overset with the full gales of a flourishing condition: it is of use to moderate the Affe∣ctions to lawful things; and it is of use to keep the Heart from unlawful and sinful loves; if Christ have not your Hearts, some base and foolish lusts will have them, Page 108 which will wound your Consciences with guilt, and peirce your Hearts thorow with many sorrows.
2. The love of Christ is useful in Ad∣versity, to bear up the Heart from sink∣ing and being overwhelmed with the Winds and Waves of Trouble and Af∣fliction; it is of use to establish the Heart from being extraordinarily moved in the most Stormy times: not only Faith but Love too is of a fixing nature to keep from amazing fears of evil tidings, and the greatest perils; and of a strengthning Nature to stay and support the Spirit and keep off pressing Griefs and despondencies in the darkest and most doleful days.
3. The love of Christ is useful to quicken and excite unto duty, this makes the yoke of Christ easie, and will enable you to draw cheerfully therein; this makes the burden of du•y (so accounted by the most,) to be no burden in esteem; if you have much love unto Christ you will account duty to be your priviledge, and the Service of Christ to be freedome, and none of his commands will be grie∣vous, but all of them joyous unto you; if you have much love unto Chri•t, your Hearts will be ensiamed hereby with zeal for your Masters Glory, and you will ne∣ver Page 109 think you can do too much for him.
4. The love of Christ is useful to arm you against Temptations. If Faith be a Shield, Love to Chri•t is a Brea•-pla•e a∣gainst the sharpest Darts which the Devil can throw at you; •ove to Christ doth Garrison your Hearts against this Enemy, and is a strong defence against any over∣tures which the Devil may make in his Temptations to draw you to sin: how can I do this evil and offend my dear Lord, will be the answer of love to repel temp∣tations to sin, whatever alluring proffers they be accompanied withal. Temptati∣ons will have no force to prevail over you, if this love of Christ be strong within you.
5. The love of Christ is useful to fit you for the cross and the greatest sufferings which you may be called unto for the sake of Christ. If you have great love to Christ, you will be ready to suffer for Christ with patience and with 〈…〉; the hea∣viest cross will seem light, disgrace and shame will be accounted honour, losses will be esteemed gains, pains, pleasures, or at least priviledges: prisons will seem Pallaces, and death will be accounted life. O how have some run to the stake Page 110 and embraced the Flames of Fire kindled to burn them, when they have felt the fire of love to Christ burning strongly within them! thus this love is usefull in Life.
6. The love of Christ is useful at death. This love in its strength will put a beauty upon the Aspect of death, which seems so grim and terrible unto the most. If you have much love to Christ, you will look upon death as Christs messenger sent for you to bring you out of the dark Prison of of the World and the Body, and to con∣vey you into the Mansions of Glory, where your dear Lord is, and you will not be unwilling to leave the World that you may live with Christ.
8. Consider the sweetness of this love unto Christ. If there be sweetness in the love of the Members, there is much more sweetness in the love of the head; if there be delight and comfort in the love of Christs disciples for their Masters sake, there is much more delight and comfort in the love of Christ himself the Master for his own sake; the Apostle telleth us of comfort in love, Phillip. 2. 1. that is in the love one of another, but the consola∣tions in the love of Christ are far exceed∣ing; there are no such sweet motions of Page 111 Heart, as those of the strong and fervent outgoings of it in its love to Christ, especi∣ally when Christ doth draw near and ma∣nifest his love unto the Soul. Christ, doth rejoice in his love unto his Disciples, and they may rejoice in their love to him, and this joy in the love of Christ is a full joy: Iohn 15. 11. These things have I spoken unto you that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full: in the former verse Christ speaketh of his love to them, and here of his joy in them they were the objects of his joy as they were the objects of his love, and according to the measure and strength of their love to Christ, so is the fulness of their joy in Christ. Cant. 4. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my Sister my Spouse, thou hast ravished my Heart with one of thine Eyes, with one chain of thy neck: they are the words of Christ the Beloved, unto his Spouse the Church, expressing the ravishing delight which he found in her Looks of Faith, or glances of Love, and the chain of Graces which she was adorned withall. How then may your Hearts be ravished with unspeaka∣ble delight in looking upon Christs most amiable face, and in the fervent actings of your love unto him? when a glance of his Eye, a smile, a beam from his counte∣nance Page 112 doth enkindle a fire in the breast, and this fire of love to Christ doth burn and flame; O how sweet is this flame, beyond what tongue is able to ex∣press.
9 And lastly, Consider the Attainable∣ness of this love to Chr••t. B•u•ts are not capable of this love to Chri•t, but you are capable: as your minds are capable of knowing him, so your hearts are ca∣pable of loving him. Others have attain∣ed this love who were as much without it, and as much averse unto it, as any of you may be. Here you are capable, hereafter if you live and dye without it, you will be utterly uncapab•e. You have now the means of Grace, and as of other Graces, so of this Grace of love to Christ, in the diligent use of the means you may attain there unto. Thus I have done with the Motives to excite you unto the love of Christ.
THe second thing propounded in the Prosecution of the use of Exhorta∣tion was to give Directions, and the di∣rections will be of two sorts. 1. How Page 113 to attain this love to Christ. 2. Where∣in to show this love to Christ. First, How to attain this love to Christ, and here I shall, 1. Direct you how you may attain this love to Christ in the truth of it, where you are wholly without it. 2. Direct you how to attain much of this love to Christ, where you have it but in a low degree and weak measure. The first directions then shall be, how you that are Graceless, and Christless, and whol∣ly witho•t this love to Christ, may at-this love to Christ.
1. If you would attain this love unto Jesus Christ whom you have never seen, you must get a thorow pe•swasion that there is such a Person a• Jesus Christ, and that he is such a Person indeed, as the Scriptures have revealed him to be. The reason why Heathens and Infidels are without love to Christ is because they have never heard of him, and the reason why many nominal Christians that have heard of Christ are without love to him, is because they are not really perswaded that there is or ever was such a person as Jesus Christ in the World. If you would attain this love you must give firm assent to this Truth (which is the greatest of all, and the very pillar & foundation of Page 114 the whole Christian Religion) that Christ really is, and that the History of him is no cunningly devised Fable. If you have reason to beleive that there was such a a Person as Alexander the Great, that there was such person as Iulius Caesar, both which lived before Christs time; you have more reason to believe that there was and is such a Person as Jesus Christ: you have only Prophane history for the former, but you have Sacred history for the latter; you have only the writings of men to testifie the one, but you have the word of God in the Holy Scripture to testi∣fie the other. You have as much reason to beleive the history of the Gospel as to beleive any other history, and you have more reason to believe the history of the Gospel than to believe any other history. I shall suggest one reason amongst many that might be mentioned. The History of the Gospel was written by unlearned Fi∣shermen, and it was beleived by as lea•ned men as any in the world, in and near the time of their writing, which belief some of them sealed with their blood, which they would never have done had they found any reason to suspect the truth of this history, which (had there been any reason of suspition) they might easily have Page 115 found out in those times when such a grand Fable as this (had it been a Fable) could not possibly have gained credit▪ amongst wise and inquisitive men; especially when it would have been their greatest worldly Interest, the preservation of their Estates and Lives, to have disbelieved and dis∣owned it. If, beside the Apostles, all the learned Fathers (whose Works are ex∣tant amongst us, who lived near the Apo∣stles times, and some of whom▪ suffered Martyrdom for Christ's sake) did see rea∣son to believe that there was such a Per∣son as Christ, surely you have reason to believe, and no solid reason to discredit the report of him in the History of the Go∣spel. And when you have attained a firm Assent unto this, get a full perswasion that Jesus Christ is such a person as the Scrip∣tures do record and testifie him to be. Be perswaded of his Amiableness, his Great∣ness, his Holiness, his Wisdom, his Faith∣fulness, his Fulness, his Kindness, the Re∣lation he stands in to the Father, his onely begotten and dearly beloved Son; the Re∣lation he standeth in to his People, espe∣cially in his Offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, as I have set him forth in the Motives to stirre up Love; acquaint your selves with the History of his Birth so Page 116 Wonderf•ll, of his Life so Holy, of his Works so Powerfull, of his Doctrine so Heavenly, of his Sufferings so Great, of his Death so Painfull and yet so Volunta∣ry, of his Resurrection, Ascension, Sessi∣on and Intercession at the right hand of God, so needfull for us, as you have this History upon record in the New Testa∣ment: the assent to this in your Minds, will be a preparative for the attaining of true Love to Jesus Christ in your Hearts.
2. If you would attain true Love unto Jesus Christ, you must get Conviction of Sin, and a sense of your Need of Christ. The prevailing love and liking of Sin is inconsistent with true love unto Jesus Christ; such as love Christ do hate Sin, and such as love sin have an Enmity against Christ: Whilest your hearts goe after your Covetousness, or your Volup∣tuousness, or are set upon any other Wic∣kednesse, your hearts cannot be set upon Christ; Before you can love Christ, your hearts must be taken off from sin. Get therefore a conviction of Sin as the greatest Evil in the world. Be perswaded what an evil thing and a bitter it is, to transgress Gods Law, and thereby to affront the highest Majesty, the great King of Glory. Page 117 Look into the Word and Law of God, and see what is there required, what is there forbidden, and then look back upon your Lives, or look into the Register of your Consciences, that you may find out what your sins of Omission and Commission have been. Take a view of your transgressions of the Law, and of your disobedience also unto the Gospel; and as you are guilty before God, so labour for a clear sight and deep sense of your Guilt, how you are under the Curse for your Disobedience, how you are liable to ruine and eternal destruction for your sins. Look upon sin as the most mischievous thing in the world; if there be any evil in any temporal calamities which ever did befall any of the children of men, yea if there be any evil in future miseries, in the extremity and eternity of Hells Plagues and Punishments, be per∣swaded that there is far more evil in sin which is the cause of all. Think how mise∣rable you are whilest under the Guilt and Reigning power of sin, that the Worm is not so vile, that the Toad is not so full of deadly Poyson, that the filth of the Earth is not comparable unto the filth of your sins. Think how base and disingenuous you have been, how monstrously ingrate∣ful to your Maker and Benefactor, what Page 118 Traytors and Rebels you have been to your Supream King and Soveraign. Think what peril and danger continually you are in of Death and Hell, how weak the thred of Life is which ties Soul and Body toge∣ther, which may be suddenly cut when you are least aware, when you are most secure; and then if you be found in a Christless state, your Souls will be con∣veyed immediately unto a place of reme∣diless and eternal misery. Be perswaded that you are undone irrecoverably, unless the Lord Iesus Christ do help you, that you are lost for ever unless the Lord Jesus Christ do save you, that you cannot escape the dreadful Vengeance of God, but must be tormented most horri•ly and everlast∣ingly, amongst the Devils and the damned in Hell, unless the Lord Jesus Christ do deliver you from the Wrath which is to come. The sight and sense of sin, your miserable condition thereby, and of your indispensable need of Christ, will make way for your Love of him. If any of you were in debt many thousand pounds unto a severe Creditor, and had not one penny to discharge it, and you were threat∣ned by him to be thrown into Prison, where you must lie and •ot and starve and die, without hopes of relief or release, Page 119 except you could make payment of the debt: And if you should hear of such a Rich man that were willing and did proffer to be your Surety, and to pay all for you; surely you would have an •ndeared Love to such a friend and Benefactor: Your sins are Debts beyond the vastest summe of Money that ever was ow'd or pay'd, and you are not able to pay one farthing, to give the least satisfaction unto God, unto whom you are indebted; and God is se∣vere, and strictly just, and without full satisfaction to his Justice, he will throw you into a worse Prison than the most nasty dolesom Prison on Earth, I mean into the Prison of Hell, where you must lie with∣out the least relief, or any hopes of re∣lease: The Lord Jesus Christ proffers to be your Surety, to pay off all for you, and to give you a full discharge; were you sen∣sible what a Debt Sin is, and what a Pri∣son Hell is, surely it would work your hearts unto an endeared Love of such a Friend and Surety, who alone can keep you out of this dolesome dreadfull Prison, into which without him you will certainly and may suddenly be thrown. If any of you were sick of a Death-threatning di∣stemper, and you had made use of many Physicians, but none could do you good; Page 120 and if you should hear of one Physician who could assuredly and would readily and freely cure your Disease, and save your Life; surely you would thankfully make use of this Physician, and his kindness would exceedingly engage your Love: Sin is the Souls sickness, you are sick un∣to death, Sin when it is finished will bring forth Death, not only Temporal but Eter∣nal; It is the Lord Jesus Christ onely that can cure you of this deadly Sickness, that can remove your Sin, and thereby deliver you from this Death of Deaths; Get a sense of the dangerous sickness of Sin, and you will prize and use and love the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the onely Physician of value in this case. If any of you were guilty of Murder, or Theft, or High Treason, or any other heinous breach of the Law of the Land, for which you were apprehended, arraigned, accused, and con∣demned to be Hanged or Burned, or to a more tormenting Death than either; and if you should hear of a Prince at Court that had begg'd the Pardon of such Crimes, for such Malefactors, and had obtained, and he should send to you to signifie his willingness to do the like for you; surely you would thankfully accept of such a proffer, and would love this Prince as Page 121 your life, who should thus preserve you from Death: You are all Guilty of high Treason and Rebellion against the King of Heaven, in your breach of his Law, and you are condemned by this Law, not to be hanged for it, or beheaded, but to be burn'd for it, to be burn'd in the Fire of Hell, which is unquenchable; The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of Glory, a Friend in the Court of Heaven, who hath procured a Pardon for many such male∣factors, and sendeth to you to signifie his willingness to procure your Pardon, if you will make use of him; Surely, if you have a sense of your Crime and Danger, you will apply your selves unto Christ to save you, and you will not withhold your Love from such a one as should shew you such unparallel'd Favour.
3. If you would attain true Love unto Christ, you must get an Interest in Christ, you must lay hold on Christ by Faith, that you may be united to him, and related to him; It is Faith that works Love, to them that believe Christ is precious, but by Unbelievers he is sleighted, and cannot be beloved; without Union to Christ you will have no affection to Christ; the foun∣dation of Love is layd in the Relation to Page 122 the Beloved, and this Union to and Inte∣rest in Christ, it is only by Faith: If then you would embrace Christ in the arms of your Love, you must first lay hold on Christ, and receive him by the hand of Faith. Whatever Motives and Attra∣ctives of Love there be in Jesus Christ, they will be none to you without this In∣terest and Relation; Christ is a Person most beautifull, most lovely a•d amiable, but he will not be so in your eyes, so long as you are without the eye of Faith; he is great and powerfull, but so much the worse for you, because without Interest in him, his power is engaged against you: he is pure and holy, and whilest in your sins you are therefore the more odious in his sight; he is wise and knoweth all things, therefore is privy to all your sins; he is most true, and therefore will fulfill his threatnings against such as go on still in their trespasses; he is full, but you without interest in his Person have no share in his fulness; he is kind, but it is to those that are related to him, but what is this to you that are Unbelievers? he is a Shep∣heard to his Sheep, but you are Goats; he is a Captain to his Souldiers, but you are Enemies; he is a Teacher to his Disci∣ples, but you are the Devils Scholars; he Page 123 is a Gracious Soveragin, but it is to his Subjects, you are rebells; He is a Priest to his People, having made satisfaction and doth make intercession for them; but you trample his blood under his feet. He is a Friend and Benefactor to his People, but you are Strangers; he is a Brother, and a Husband to his People, but you stand in none of these Relations; he is a Redeemer to his People but your are Slaves and Cap∣tives.
The light which he gives is most sweet, but you are darkness; the life which he imparts is most excellent, but you are dead in sins and trespasses; he gives pardon of sin, but you are under guilt; he gives Peace of Conscience, but your Conscien∣ces are still wounded and •eared; he gives the Joyes of the Holy Ghost, but you are in danger of Eternal woes; the Robes of his Righteousness are most Rich, but you are naked; the Riches of his Grace are inestimable, but you are still poor; the dignity of being made the Sons of God is most admirable, but you are Children of the Devil; he gives accesse unto God in Prayer, but you are still at a distance; he gives a Title to the Kingdom of Heaven, but if you continue in your present state, you will be shut at last out of the Pal∣lace Page 124 which is above, and be thrust down into the Prison of Hell which is below. What then are all these motives to draw forth love to Christ unto you, that have no interest in Christ? it is Union and Relation unto Christ, and interest in him by Faith, which puts life into these motives▪ that they may indeed attract love; O then be per∣swaded without further delay to endeavor after this interest in Christ; you must have it, or you are lost irrecoverably, you will be miserable Eternally; and you may at∣tain this interest, others have attain'd it, as mean, and as vile as your selves; and you are called unto Christ, O be perswad∣ed then to come unto Christ, and joyn your selves by Faith unto him, that you may have interest in Christ and in all his Bene∣fits. If you ask me what this Faith is that gives an interest in Christ, what it is to be∣lieve; I answer out of Iohn 1. 12. that it is to receive Christ. But to as many as re∣ceived him to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God, even to them that Believe in his Name. Be perswaded then to re∣ceive Christ and accept of him upon the terms of the Gospel. Receive and take hold of Christ by the hand of Faith. And that you may do this, 1. You must let go your hold of sin, if your hugg sin in your Page 125 bosom, if you harbour base Lusts in your Hearts, you cannot receive and give enter∣tainment to Christ there: you must thrust sin out, if you would let Christ in. 2. You must let go your hold on the World; I don't say you must let it go out of your hands, and throw away the estates which God hath given, except it be to part with some proportion in a way of Mercy and Charity, and except you be called to leave all rather than to forgo Christ or any of his Truths; but you must let the World go out of your Hearts, the World must not sit upon the Throne of your Hearts, that seat must be reserved for Christ, cheif love and inordinate love to the world and things in the world must be taken off. 3. You must let go hold of self; your own Righ∣teousness and all self-confidences must be parted with, you must be humbled and emp∣tied of your selves, if you would be prepa∣red for the receiving of Jesus Christ, and re∣ceiving of that fulness which there is in him. And then, 1. Receive Jesus Christ as your High-Priest to reconcile you unto God, trusting alone in his Merits and Mediation, 2. Receive Jesus Christ as your Prophet to instruct and lead you in all Truth by his Word and Spirit. 3. Receive Jesus Christ as your Soveraign Lord and King to Rule. Page 124 you. 4. Receive Jesus Christ as your Captain to tread down your Spiritual Ene∣mies under your feet. 5. Receive Jesus Christ in all his Relations of Shepherd, Friend, Brother, and especially in the Re∣lation of an Husband, and joyn your selves to him, and make over your selves to him, dedicating and devoting your selves to him, and giving up your selves to be guid∣ed, guarded, provided for, and governed by him. This is to receive Christ, and this is to Believe, this gives Union and Relation, and interest in the Lord Jesus, and if you do thus joyn your selves to Christ by Faith; you will quickly feel love to Christ to spring forth, to work and act, and that vigorously; and to bring forth such fruit in the life as shall evidently shew, that love to Christ is rooted in the Heart.
4. If you would attain Truth of love to Jesus Christ, be diligent in the use of all those means which God hath appointed for the working of it, I shall instance only in two means.
1. Be diligent in Hearing the Word Preached; as Faith cometh by Hearing, so love to Christ is wrought by the same means, Hear and your Souls shall live,Page 127 saith the Prophet, Isa. 55. 3. and I may say, hear that your Hearts may love, that where the Eye cannot, the Ears may affect the Heart with love to the Lord Jesus. Whilst Lydia was hearing Paul Preach, her Heart was opened, Act. 16. 14. and whilst you are hearing Ministers Preach of Christ, your Hearts may be opened to re∣ceive him, and to embrace him in the arms of your dearest love, See Act. 11. 15. As I began to speak the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning; whilst Peter was Preaching and the Gentiles were hearing, the Holy Ghost was sent down from Heaven and fell upon upon; and so whilst you are hearing the Word, God may give forth of his Spirit to work this Grace of love to Jesus Christ in your Hearts.
2. Be diligent and earnest in Prayer unto God for this love, confess and bewail be∣fore him your want of this love, tell him you deserve a double Anathema, because you do not love Christ▪ and withall tell him you cannot of your selves love him, that you can as easily lift a Mountain to Heaven, as lift up your hearts unto Christ; but desire that he would draw up your love to Christ by his Spirit. Beg of him that he would put out the fire of Lust, and all Page 128 inordinate creature-love, and that be would enkindle a fire of love in you to this most lovely Jesus, which no corruption in your Hearts may be able extinguish. And in your Prayers present your Hearts to the Lord Jesus, offer them up freely to him, and desire that he would accept of them, that he would take hold of them, and take possession of them and erect his Throne in them, and an Everlasting habitation for himself.
HAving given directions how you may attain the Truth of love to Christ where you are without it, I come now to give directions how you may attain much of this love to Christ, where you have it but in a low degree and weak measure. Would you attain much love to Christ?
1. Be much in Contemplation of Christ; consider often what motives there are of love in him, presse them upon your Spirits and labour to awaken and rouze up your Hearts unto the vigorous exercise of this love. Spend time in secret retirement, and there think, and think again, of the Super∣lative Excellencies and Perfections which Page 129 are in Christ's Person, how wonderfull and matchless his love is, what heigths in it that cannot be reached, what depths in it that cannot be fathomed, what other di∣mensions which cannot be comprehended: Meditate often of his benefits, how incom∣parable his love-tokens be: and whilst you you are musing, you may feel the fire burning; whilst you are looking you may feel your Hearts leaping; whilst you are taking a view of him, ere you are aware, your Hearts like the Chariots of Amina∣dab, may run to him: O the ravishments of love! the transports of Soul! which some Believers have found in their retired thoughts and views of Christ. Get often into the Mount of Divine Contemplation, and there look upwards unto Heaven, and think with your selves. Yonder, Yonder a∣bove the shining Sun is the more Glorious Son of Righteousness; there at the right hand of the Throne of God, is my beloved Iesus the Son of God seated, and though he be so high above me both in place and dignity, yet he thinketh upon me, and pleadeth for me, and many a gift hath he thence & sent by his Spi∣rit conveyed unto me, and I can ask nothing of the Father in his name, but, if it be really for my good, I have it by his means. O dear Iesus, how lovely art thou in thy self, Page 130 the darling of heaven! the Delight of the Father! the Admiration of Angels! O what brightness of Glory, what shining lu∣stre art thou arrayed with! thou art cloth∣ed with most excellent Majesty and Ho∣nour! thou art girded with infinite Might and Power! the beauty of thy face is most wonderfull! the smiles of thy countenance are most sweet and delightful! and doth this lovely fair One, this fairest of ten thou∣sand, this most excellent and alltogether lovely Person bear a particular love to me? to such a vile worm as me? to such a dead Dog as me? to such an undeserving, ill∣deserving, hell-deserving sinner as me? O what marvellous kindness is this! what in∣fi•i•e Riches of Free Grace! doth he know me by name? hath he given himself for me? and given himself to me? and shall not I give him my heart? am I written in his book• Redeemed with his blood, clothed with his Righteousness, beautified with his Image? hath he put the dignity of a Child of God upon me, and prepared a place in the Fathers house for me? O wonderful! O admirable! what shall I render? what re∣turns shall I make? had I a thousand tongues, should I not employ them all in speak∣ing his praise? had I a thousand Hearts should I not present them all as too mean to Page 131 thank-offering unto him. And yet am I slow, slow of Heart to love this dear and sweet Iesus? awake O my Soul! awake from thy dulness and stupidity? shake off thy sleep which glues thine eye-lids so close together, shake out the dust of the Earth which hath got into thine eyes and keeps thee from the view of thy beloved. Arise O my Soul! and lift up thy self, unfetter thy feet, un•log thy self, take the wing and mount up above the sky and visible Heavens, even to the place where the lovely and dear Iesus is. Take thy leave of the world, and all things therein. Bid farewel to the flattering ho∣nours, the deceitful Riches, the glozing Pleasures, that are here below: bid adieu to them, and leave them to those that place their chiefest happiness in them: if Earth hath thy body for a while, yet let it have thy heart and chiefest affections no more; come O my Soul ascend and soar alo•t unto the Heaven of Heavens, the way unto the Holy of Holies is accessible, the vail is rent, the fore-runner is entred, and thou mayest have entrance too with thy Thoughts, and Desires, and Loves, and Hopes and Ioyes; there thou mayst see and veiw, and admire, and embrace thy dearest Lord; there thy Hea•t may find a fit object for it's Love, even thy dearest Lord Iesus, who wil not re∣ject Page 123 & despise thee, but give kind entertain∣ment unto thy love, and withall give the full∣est & sweetest returns; there thy Heart may find a room to dispose of it self, and not only a lodging like that of a wayfaring man for a night, but an habitation wherein to dwell and to take up it's Eternal abode; let thy Heart be thy fore-runner, that when thy body drops off from thee thou mayst know where to betake thy se•f and find ready en∣tertainment there where thy Heart hath been long before. Why dost thou hang down∣wards O my Soul? why dost thou bend so much to the Earth and Earthly things? what is there here below that is not beneath thee, and altogether unworthy of thy Love? how empty, and vain, and thorny are these things? don't wast thy time, weary thy self for very vanity, don't prick and wound thy self with these things any more. What aileth thee O my Soul, that thou art so back∣ward to the Love of Christ? is it because thou canst not see Christ with the Eyes of thy Body? thou shalt see him with those Eyes hereafter, when he comes in his Glory, & thy body is raised and repaired, and sitted to bear such a sight; thou can'st not see the Wind, but thou hearest it's noise, and feel∣est it's blasts; and dost thou not hear Christ's voice in his Word? dost thou not Page 133 feel the breathings of his Spirit in his Ordi∣nances. Thou art invisible thy self O my Soul, and art thou so drenched in flesh, that visible objects shall have more Power to draw down thy heart, than this most glori∣ous object (though now invisible) shall have power to draw up thy Heart? dost thou question and doubt of his love to thee? and doth this damp and discourage thy Affecti∣on? whose Image is this which is engraven upon thee? is it not the Image of Christ? what writing is that upon thy Heart? is it not Gods Law written by Christs Spirit? whose deckings and adornings hast thou got about thee? what Beauty is this which is put upon thee? is it not Christs comeliness? where hadst thou those Bracelets, that Ring, those Iewels, that chain of Graces? are they not Christ's love-tokens which he hath given thee? and yet wilt thou doubt of his love? if thou feelest corruption strong, yet dost thou not perceive some Grace? al∣though it be weak? hast thou not some love to Christ, although it be low? are not thy desires chiefly after him, which evidence that thy chief love is to him? and is it so with any but such whom Christ doth love? doth not Christ love first? and yet wilt thou question his love? banish then thy fears, silence thy doubts O my Soul, rouze up thy self and Page 134 climb •p by the Iacobs ladder which is let down to thee from Heaven, and settle thy love upon Iesus Christ and those things which are above, where Christ sits at the Right hand of God. Such retired Con∣templations of Christ, and Soliloquies and pleadings with your own Souls when alone by your selves, will tend exceedingly to the promotion of your love unto Christ.
2. Would you have much love to Christ? Be much in Reading and Studying the Scriptures. The Scriptures are a Glasse in which Christ may be seen, he cannot be seen Face to Face in this World, this is the happiness of the Triumphant Church in Heaven, not of the Militant Church upon the Earth; what may here be discerned of Christ, it is in the glass of the Scriptures and Gospel-Ordinances: this is that glass spo∣ken of, 2 Cor. 3. 18. We all with open face beholding as •n a glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from Glory to Glory. Christ is the Glory of the Lord, the brightness of his Fathers Glory? would you have much love to him, be often looking, veiwing and beholding of him in the glass of the Scriptures, by much beholding of him, you may be trans∣formed more and more into the likeness of Page 135 his Holiness, and into the likeness of his Love, which is Glory begun. The Scrip∣tures have the Image of Christ engraven upon them; the Image of the Father is upon the Son, and the Image of the Son is upon the Scriptures; there you may see the Picture of Christ, the Beauty of Christ, at least some lineaments are there drawn by the hand of God, although not fully and to the life, I mean such you will see in him when you come to behold him face to face in Heaven; yet his Beauty is drawn in such proportions and with such sha∣dows as you are now capable of behold∣ing. Would you have much love unto Christ whom you have never seen? look much upon his Picture and Image in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are Christs Love letters. In the second and third Chap∣ters of Revelations, Christ doth send Se∣ven Epistles to the Seven Asian Churches; there are many Epistles and Love-letters as it were in the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament, wherein Christ doth give most kind expressions of most en∣deared Love unto his People. Read much and study Christ's Love letters, especially those parts of the Scriptures wherein Christ doth express most of his kindness and love. See how kindly Christ doth express him∣self, Page 136Ioh. 14. v. 1, 2, 3, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27. Chap. 1•. v. 9. 13, 14, 15, 16. Chap. 16. v. 7. 22, 24, 26, 27. 33. Chap. 17. v. 9, 10, 11, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Chap. 20. v. 17. Read often and consider such places. Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in you, and his will feed and maintain your love to Christ, this is a means to have Christ dwell in your hearts, not onely by Faith, but also by most endeared Love.
3. Would you have much Love to Christ? be much in Prayer unto God for this Love. Eph. 6. 23. Peace be unto the Brethren and love with Faith from God the Father. Not onely Peace is from God, who is called the God of Peace, and Faith from God, who works it by his Almighty power; but alos Love is from God, who is the God of Love; he circumciseth the heart to love himself, and to love his Son. This love of Christ is a Grace of the Spirit, which God doth freely give and power∣fully work, the Beginnings of it, the In∣crease of it, all the Measures and De∣grees of it are from him; If you would attain high measures of love to Christ, you must apply your selves unto God in Pray∣ter, and therein diligently seek to him for it. Page 137 If you would have much love to Christ in your hearts, you must be often at the Throne of Grace upon your Knees; and there humbly acknowledge, if not the want, yet the weakness of your love to Christ, bewail your Sins which do damp your Affections, and earnestly request that he would work your hearts unto a strong love; be importunate in Prayer for this, follow God day by day with the same re∣quests, plead with him for it, fill your mouths with Arguments, and fill your Ar∣guments with Faith and •ervent Desires. Tell him, whatever lovelinesse and love there be in Christ, whatever attractives to draw forth your love, yet of your selves you are utterly unable to put forth the least motion of true affection unto Christ. Tell him, that this love to Christ, though it be your Duty, yet it is his Gift, that you ought to act it, but this you cannot do, unless he works it. Tell him how easily he can enkindle this Fire of Love to Christ in your bosoms, and blow it up into a flame. Tell him, he hath bid you to ask and you shall have, and whatever you ask according to his will he heareth, and that it is his will you should love Christ not onely truely but also strongly. Tell him, you desire much love to Christ, Page 138 and that these desires do come from him∣self, and therefore earnestly desire the ful∣filling of them. Tell him, if you do not love Christ much, you shall be apt to over∣love the Creature, which will be displea∣sing to him, therefore request that you may have such a love to Christ as may overpower all other love, and keep your hearts from all Inordinacy of affections to any thing beneath and besides the Lord Jesus Christ. Plead how much it will be for his Glory, that you should have much love unto Christ, that hereby you shall be enabled to honour him the more in the world. Plead how much it will be for your good; tell him, if you asked Corn and Wine and Oyl; if you asked Wealth and Honours, and Creature-delights in abundance, they might be a snare to you, and for your hurt; but a strong love to Christ is needfull and usefull, and be sure will be for your good; urge his Promise of Circumcising the heart to love him, and plead his Faithfulness; and if you be thus importunate in Prayer for much love to Christ, and will not be denyed, you shall not be denyed.
4. Would you have much Love to Christ, get much Faith. Faith worketh Love both to the Father and to the Son; Page 139 According to the measure of your Faith, so will the measure of your Love be: Such as are without any Faith, are without any Love; such as have but a •eeble faith, have but a weak love; and such as have the strongest faith, have the strongest love. The strongest faith giveth the clearest dis∣covery of Christs infinite Excellencies and Perfections; It is not the eye of Sense which doth discern Christ, neither is it the eye of Reason which doth discern him; whatever discoveries we have of Christ, it is by Revelation, and this is discernable onely by Faith. Faith is the Evidence of things not seen, and the unseen Christ is evident by Faith to be the most excellent Person, and the most sutable Object of love, and the more evident the Object of love is, the stronger will the love be. Moreover, Faith is not onely the Eye of the Soul to discern Christ, but also the Hand of the Soul, not onely to take hold on him, but also to receive from him of his Fulness Grace for Grace, and by con∣sequence more of this Grace of love to him. Our Communion with Christ is by Faith; the more intimate acquaintance and fellowship we have with those whom we love, the more endeared will be our love; the strongest Faith brings us unto Page 140 the greatest intimacy, fellowship and fa∣miliarity with Christ, and therefore it is a means of the strongest Love. Endea∣vour then to get a strong Faith, and to live daily in the powerfull exercise there∣of; the more you live by Faith, the more you will dwell in the Love of Christ.
5. Would you have much Love unto Christ? labour for much of the Spirit; la∣bour for much of the Light of the Spirit; There must be not onely the Glass of the Scriptures, and the Eye of Faith, but also the Light of the Spirit, that you may have a clear discerning of this lovely Lord Je∣sus; Labour for much of the Operation of the Spirit; the Spirit is like Wind to blow up the Sparks of Love in your hearts into a flame. Labour for the inhabitation of the Spirit, and that the Promise may be made good to you which Christ giveth to his Disciples. Ioh. 14. 16, 17. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you ano∣ther Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth, whom the World cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Page 141 6. Would you have much Love unto Christ? labour for clear Evidences of his Love unto you; the apprehensions of Christ's Loveliness may excite to some love, but the full well grounded perswa∣sions of Christs love to you, will above all heighten your love to Christ. Doubts of Christ's love do cause fears, and fears do contract the heart, and therefore are opposite to love, which is the expansion and enlargement of the heart; perfect love casteth out fear, the more love, the less fear, and the more doubts and fears the less love. Such as doubt much of Christs love to them, they may love Christ truely, but they cannot love Christ strong∣ly. You will love a less lovely person that loves you, more than a more lovely per∣son that hates you; the love of the Per∣son beloved is a most amiable Qualifica∣tion and strong attractive, yea one of the greatest Incentives and Inducements unto love. Get then a perswasion of the infi∣nite love to you of this Infinitely lovely person, that you may be able to say with Paul, Gal. 2. 20. Who loved me, and gave himself for me. Look diligently into the Word of God, and find out the Chara∣cters there of those that are Beloved by Christ; and then look narrowly into your Page 142 selves, and see whether your face will not answer that face in the Looking glass of the Scriptures; see whether you can∣not find the lineaments of the New Man within you, whether you have not expe∣rienced a gracious change; Is there not Light where there was Darkness? Is there not Life where there was Death? Is there not Love where there was Hatred? Is there not the Law of God written, where the Law of Sin did command all? Is not the Biass of your Wills and Hearts God∣ward, and Christ-ward, and Heaven-ward? which heretofore was onely Sin-ward and Earth-ward and Hell-ward? Pray ear∣nestly unto God, that he would give you a full assurance, that if you are indeed ef∣fectually called, if you are indeed united and related unto Jesus Christ, you may know it, and no longer doubt thereof. In a word, seek diligently after the Manifesta∣tions of Christ's Love in all the wayes of his Ordinances; rest not in the out-side of Ordinances, but seek after Christ in Ordinances, follow him from Sabbath to Sabbath, from Ordinance to Ordinance, and always be looking for him, and look∣ing towards him, till he turn about and look upon you, and give you a gracious smile; seek and wait for that Manifesta∣tion Page 143 of himself which he hath promised to hem that love him, Ioh. 14. 21. Wait for his Mission of the Holy Ghost from Heaven, 1 Pet. 1. 12. to shed abroad the sense of his Love into your hearts, Rom. 5. 5. and if you did know assuredly and had a sense hereof given unto you by the Spirit of Christ, O the Joyes which then you would have in him! O the love which then you would have to him! As your Joyes would be unspeakable, so your Love would be unspeakable too; such a warmth of heart and burning of love to Christ you would feel within you, as is beyond the Rhetorick of the Tongue to set forth.
7. Would you have much Love to Christ? get much hatred of Sin, and ac∣cordingly watch and pray, and strive and fight against Sin, as the worst of Evils, as that which doth so much displease your Lord. Bewail sins of daily incursion, and labour that your sins of Infirmity may be less every day than other; Take heed of sins of sudden surprize, but chiefly of de∣signed sins, and that you comply not with any temptations unto grosser miscarriages, which like water cast upon the Fire of your love to Christ, will put out the Page 144 flame, and leave onely a few unperceiv∣able sparks in the corner of your hearts. Suffer not Sinne to have any room in your hearts, or if it will abide and you cannot thrust it quite out, let it not have a quiet habitation within you; di∣sturb sin as much as you can, wage war every day with your remaining Lusts, let no day pass over your heads without giving some blows, some thrusts and wounds to Sin. St•eighten the room of Sin in your hearts as much as may be; the more room Sin hath in your hearts, the less room Christ will have there. Particularly, take heed of inordinate love to the world, and the things in the world, the prevalency of which love will damp your love to Christ; by how much more the world gets of your love, by so much the less Christ will have of it. A subordinate love you may have to Persons and Things in the world, but let no person or thing have your chief love but only Christ; love no∣thing for it self with an abstracted love, but love all inferiour things with inferi∣our love, love all under the Lord, and in the Lord, and for the Lord's sake; get all in∣ordinate affections to the world crucified by the Cross of Christ. You must have dying affections to perishing things, if you Page 145 would have a living and active love to the ever-living Jesus.
8. Would you have much love unto Christ? associate your selves most with those that have most love unto Christ; you may fetch light from their light, & you may fetch warmth from their Fire; dead coals are enkindled by the living, and your dead hearts may be enkindled with love to Christ by the warm discourse of those that have warm hearts. Be ready to speak of Christ and for Christ in any company as you have sit opportunity, and diligent∣ly watch for an Occasion; shut your ears against and reprove profane & •ilthy Com∣munication; divert that which is vain and frothy, and be ready to begin and promote that which is serious & savoury, that which is gracious and may tend to your own and others Edification: Study the Art, and practise it, of provoking all whom you converse withall, not unto Strife and Con∣tention, but unto this love and Affection unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and whilest you are endeavouring to warm others with this Love, you may be warmed your selves.
9. And lastly, Would you have much Love unto Christ? be much in the exer∣cise of this love, hereby it is encreased Page 146 and heightned; Use legs and have legs; and if you act this love frequently, it will hereby get strength and Activity; every day endeavour to put forth some vigorous acts of love unto Jesus Christ. In your ordinary Callings and secular Business and Employment, you may send up some looks of Love unto Jesus Christ in your Ejacu∣lations. But especially in the Duties of Gods immediate Worship, labour that your love may flow out unto Christ most vigorously. In your daily secret Devotion and Family-Worship, let love to Christ draw forth tears from your eyes, at least cause grief and sorrow in your hearts, in the acknowledgement of your sins, where∣by he hath been dishonoured and displea∣sed. Let love to Christ draw forth ear∣nest desires after Christ, and those com∣munications, manifestations, and consola∣tions which he doth give to none but such as are his; let love to Christ put requests into your mouths, arguments into your requests, and fervour into your arguments in your pleadings with him at the Throne of Grace for further supplyes of his Grace, and that you may be brought into more intimacy of acquaintance with him. Eve∣ry day you should express your love to Christ, especially on the Lords day, when Page 147 almost the whole day is to be spent in publick and private Exercises of Religi∣ous Worship, in all your love to Christ should be in exercise; in your attendances upon him in Ordinances you most bring not only your Bodies before him, but pre∣sent your Hearts unto him; this you should be carefull to do in publick Pray∣er and Hearing of the Word, Preaching and Singing Psalms; often should you endeavour in every Ordinance to lift up your hearts unto the Lord; but above all when you approach the Lords Table, all your Graces should there and then be in exercise, especially this Grace of love to Jesus Christ, your Eye there should affect your Heart, when you see the represen∣tations of your crucified Lord, and think what manner of Love he did bear to you, that he should submit himself un∣to such a Death for you, how should this affect your hearts! And if ever, then your Love to Christ should shew it self, and act with the greatest vigour and strength.
HAving given Directions how to at¦tain love to Christ in the truth and in the strength of it, I come now to the last sort of Directions wherein you should shew your love to Jesus Christ.
More generally shew your Love to Christ in your Obedience unto Christ, Ioh. 14. 15. If ye love me, keep my Commande∣ments. Be faithfull in the performance of all known Du•ies which Christ doth com∣mand, and be carefull in the forbearance of all known sins which Christ doth forbid; let your great care be to please Christ, whoever is displeased; and your great fear be of offending Christ, whoever be offend∣ed with your strictness. Shew your love, 1. In the Sincerity of your Obedience, 2. In the Willingness of your Obedience, 3. In the Vniversality of your Obedience, 4. In the Constancy of your Obedience.
1. Shew your love to Christ, in the Sin∣cerity of your Obedience. Hypocrites will do some things which Christ commandeth, Page 149 but it is from carnal Motives and with car∣nal Designs; But let love to Christ be the Motive, and the Honour of Christ the End of your Obedience; obey Christ be∣cause you love him, and with a design to please him; what you do, do heartily un∣to the Lord, and above all things desire and endeavour that what you doe may find acceptation with him. 2 Cor. 5. 9. Where∣fore we labour, that whether present or ab∣sent we may be accepted of him.
2. Shew your love to Christ in the Wil∣lingness. of your Obedience; some will obey Christ, but it is with great Back∣wardness they will perform Duties, but they are burdensome, a weariness, and toilsome, and the Commandements of Christ are grievous unto them; they are scarce ready unto any Duty, but when they are scourg'd unto it by the Rods of Affliction, or spurr'd and prickt forward by the goads of Conscience; O the listles∣ness and indisposition in the most, unto the most spiritual part of the Service of Christ! which is an evident proof of the defect of love, either in the truth of it, or at least in the measure and degree of it. Let your love shew it self in the willingness of your Obedience, serve the Lord with a willing Page 150 and ready mind, with alacrity and chear∣fulness of spirit, looking upon the Service of Christ as your Honour, and esteeming every Duty to be your Priviledge: If you have any constraints unto Obedience, let them be the constraints of love; as 2 Cor. 5. 14. If you be forced to obey Christ, let there be no violence but the violence If love; if you be drag'd to Duty, let it oe with no other cords than the cords of bove; let love be the Spur and Goad to prick you forward, that you may not onely walk but run in the wayes of Christs com∣mandements with an enlarged heart.
3. Shew your love to Christ in the Vni∣versality of your Obedience. Hypocrites wi•l perform some Duties which are for their turn, and will serve their carnal de∣signs; other duties they omit and totally neglect; let your love to Christ discover it self in your respect to all his Command∣ments; though you cannot here attain Perfection of Obedience, yet l•t your Obedience be universal; obey Christ not only in open Duties, which men are wit∣nesses of, but also in secret Duties, and spiritual Duties, which depend upon the exercise of the Mind, such as Meditation, Contemplation, Self-search, and Ejacula∣tion, Page 151 as also in the spiritual part of all Duties, which no Eye can be witness un∣to but the Eye of God; and hereby you may be distinguished from all Hypocrites in the world.
4. Shew your love to Christ in the Constancy of your Obedience. Gal. 5. 7. Ye did run well, who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth? Some Hypo∣crites are zealous Professors for a while, and at first setting out seem to outstrip many that are sincere, but they soon tire, and are weary not onely in well-doing but of it; they quickly s•umble and fall, and not onely fall down, but fall off; not only fall back, but fall away, and turn fear∣full Apostates. Shew your love to Christ not onely in setting out well, but in con∣tinuing your Christian course well unto the end of the course of your Lives; be∣gin well, and patiently continue in well-doing: Persevere in your Obedience; Be not weary in well-doing, knowing that in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not, Gal. 6. 9. And if you be faithfull unto death, Christ hath promised to give you the Crown of Life, Rev. 2. 10.
More particularly, shew your love to Christ, 1. In your learning, keeping, Page 152 asserting and maintaining of Christ's truths. 2. In your publick spiritedness and zeal for Christs honour and interest. 3. In your vi∣gorous resistance and opposition of Christs Enemies. 4. In your Following of Christ's example. 5. In your readiness to take up and patiently to bear Christs cross. 6. In your desires after Christs presence here, a longing for Christ's second appearance at the last day.
1. Shew your love to Christ in your learning, keeping, asserting and maintain∣ing Christ's Truths. 1. Learn Christ's Truths, acquaint your selves by diligent reading of the Scriptures, and other books that may be a help hereunto, with all fun∣damental truths of the Christian Religion in the first place, and so go on and proceed further to learn those truths which are su∣perstructory; and whatever truths you find a Foundation for in the Scriptures which are the word of Truth, receive them, not only in the light of them, but also in the love of them; if the branches of truths be in your heads, and the leaves of them in your profession, and the fruit of them in your actions, let the root of them be in your Hearts. 2. Having learned the truths of Christ as they are in Jesus, let them not hang loose in your understandings Page 153 but get them fastened and fixed, and close girt about the loins of your mindes; hold the truths of Christ fast, prize them above all jewels, don't part with them upon any terms, let all go, estate, liberty and life it self, rather than any of this rich treasure which Christ hath entrusted you withal. 3. Assert the truths of Christ; be not ashamed or afraid to own any truths of Christ in the most adulte∣rous & gainsaying generation, profess your belief of Christ and of the truths of Christ, endeavour that the light of these truths may shine abroad, and cast forth such bright beams in the dark world where you live, that others may be brought hereby unto the knowledge of the Truth. 4. Endea∣vour to maintain Christ's truths, earnestly contend for the Doctrine of Faith once de∣livered to the Saints, endeavour to con∣vince gainsayers, and to defend Christ's truths against those corrupt and erroneous opinions and Doctrins, which like leaven is very apt to spread and infect the mindes of men.
2. Shew your love to Christ in your pu∣blick spiritedness, and zeal for Christ's honour and interest: let your affections be publick not private, narrow, contracted and centring in self; let your love be a Page 154 publick and general love, Love not only Relations, but love all Christ's disciples, though of different Perswasions and inte∣rests, because of the image of Christ, & love not only your Friends that love you, but also your Enemies that hate you, because of the command of Christ. Let your de∣sires be publick desires, desire the welfare of the univeral Church, and of all Gods people throughout the world, and accord∣ingly Pray for their Peace and Prosperity, and endeavour as you have opportunity to promote the publick good more than your own private advantage; seek not your own things, but the things of Jesus Christ. Let your griefs be publick griefs, grieve not only for your own sins, but also for the sins of others, whereby Christ is dishonoured in the world; grieve not only for your own afflictions, but also for the afflictions of Ioseph, Heb. 13, 3. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, and them which suffer adversity, as being your selvs al∣so in the body. You are in the same mystical body with all Christ's afflicted members, and when some members suffer, the rest should suffer too, by way of sympathy. Bleeding in their wounds and grieving in their sorrows, be ready also to relieve any, especially Christ's disciples when they are Page 155 in distresse and want according to your ca∣pacity and as you have opportunity. Em∣ploy all your Talents for your Masters glo∣ry, and endeavour to promote the inte∣rest of the Lord Jesus unto the utmost of your abilities. 1. In reference to those which are without. If you are called your selves, labour to call others unto Christ, as Andrew called Peter, Phillip called Na∣thaniel unto the Messias, Iohn 1. 40, 41. 44, 45. If you have found the Messias, or rather have been found of him, let your love to Christ, and love to Souls prompt you, to endeavour the Conversion of o∣thers that are your Relations, your Friends and Acquaintances. Put your unconvert∣ed Friends in mind of their miserable Estates whilst under the guilt and reigning power of sin, whil'st slaves to the Devil and their own lusts; mind them of Death and the fearful consequences thereof to all unpardoned sinners; tell them of Christ that he is the only Saviour and Redeemer of Mankind. How able and willing he is to save them, if they seek after him and apply themselves unto him; tell them that not long since you were in the same estate with themselves, living in the practice of the same sins and going on in the same way to destruction; and that the Lord hath Page 156 shewed mercy unto you in your Conversi∣on, and bringing you into a state of Salva∣tion: tell them that there is mercy also for them if they look after it, that Gods Grace is most free, his mercy most plentiful, that Christ is most Gracious and casteth out none that come unto him: tell them of the amiablenesse of Christ's Person, of the sur∣passing love which he hath shewn to fallen mankind in his dying for them; and that though he were dead, yet he is alive and lives for evermore to intercede for all them that make choice of him, & make use of him for their Advocate. Therefore perswade them that they would break off their sins by Repentance, which otherwise will be the ruine both of their bodies and of their Souls in Hell, and without delay that they would come unto Christ and accept of him upon Gospel-terms. If any of you cannot ma∣nage these arguments well your selves per∣swade them, if you can, to hear such Mi∣nisters and Sermons, as through Gods blessing have been effectual for your Con∣version, and thus you may be instrumen∣tal to augment the Kingdom of Christ, which is one of the best ways of expressing your love unto Christ. 2. In reference to them which are within; labour to promote the interest of Christ amongst them that Page 157 are truly Gracious, by vigorous endeavors to strengthen and establish them, to quick∣en and encourage them in the wayes of the Lord: Communicate the experiences which you have had, as you see there is real need, and it may tend not so much to your praise as your Masters honour. Labour in your places to be both shineing and burning lights; be forward to every good word and work. Look upon your selves as the devoted Servants of Christ, and that you are not your own, and therefore lay out your selves to the utmost for him, and give all diligence to glorifie him with your bodies and spirits, with your Estates and interests, with your gifts and talents, all which are his, and ought to be at his de∣votion.
3. Shew your love to Christ in your vigo∣rous resistance and opposition of Christ's Enemies. There are three grand Enemies of Christ which you are by your Baptisme en∣gaged to fight against, namely the Devil, the Flesh, and the World which war both against Christ, and against your Souls. This Trinity of Adversaries agree in one, and combine together against his anointed, doing their utmost endeavour to break his bands, to untye his cords, and to unhinge his Government; they would pluck the Page 158 Crown off of Christ's head could they reach it, and the Scepter out of his hand, they would devest Christ if they could of all his power here on Earth, and confine him to his territories in Heaven; but all their attempts in this kind have been and will be in vain, Christ hath tryed the strength of these Enemies; and hath van∣quished them, but still some life and pow∣er is left with them to war against the ho∣ly seed; you are Christs Souldiers, listed under his banner, shew your fidelity and your love to your Captain and General, in manfully maintaining the spiritual com∣bat against his and your spiritual En•mies; fight the good fight of Faith, resist unto blood, don't yeild upon any account; dis∣dainfully turn away the Eye and Ear when these Enemies would entice and allure you, and stoutly make resolute opposition a∣gainst them, when they do most furiously assault you; hearken to no suggestions of the Devil, temptations of the world or motions of the Flesh which would induce and draw you into ways of sin, or which would force and drive you out of the ways of Christ; resist and oppose, and labour to gain some victories over these adversa∣ries every day, especially get conquest over the Flesh, and the other two will be Page 159 soon vanquished; Christ shewed his love to you in submitting himself to be Crucify∣ed for you, do you shew your love to Christ in Crucifying your Flesh with its af∣fections and lusts for his sake, in your self∣denial and mortifying the deeds of the body, when you deny your Carnal Reason your carnal Wisedome, your carnal will, your carnal Affections, your carnal inte∣rest, all inordinacies of your sensual appe∣tite for the sake of Christ; when you crush pride, Envy, Revenge, Malice, inordi∣dinate anger, inordinate love, inordinate desire, inordinate grief, lustfullness and all evil concupiscence for the sake and because of the command of Christ, all these are acts and evidences of love to Christ, and herein you should exercise your selves daily.
4. Shew your love to Christ in your following of his example, discover your affection unto him in your imitation of him, in writing after his copy, in treading in his steps, in walking as Christ himself walked, when he was here upon the Earth, shew your love to Christ by labouring after like∣ness unto Christ, that you may be like him both in your inward disposition and in your outward conversation: Christ was Page 160 lowly, be you humble and mean in your own esteem: Christ was meek, be you gentle, easie to be intreated, and not easi∣ly provoked: Christ loved God, let God be the object of your love: Christ hated sin, let sin also be the object of your ha∣tred: Christ contemned the world, do you get crucifyed affections unto it. Christ was compassionate to those that were in distresse, do you labour for the like bowels. Christ used to Worship publickly in the Synagogues, to pray with his Disciples, and to spend time also in secret prayer, do you give your attendance in the publick assemblies of Gods people, worship God in your Families, and be often upon your knees at the Throne of Grace in secret. Christ's mind was a heavenly mind, let the same mind be in you as was in Christ. Christ's will was submissive to his Fathers will, let the same will be in you as was in Christ. Christ's words were Gracious and edifying▪ let your speech be always with Grace, s•oury and which may be for edification. Christ's life was an active life, he was always doing good, and he was exactly holy in all his actions, be you active and diligent in the service of God in doing good to others, and be holy as Christ was holy in all manner of conversati∣on, Page 161 thus should you shew your love to Christ in following Christs example, and in imitating of him in every thing wherein you are capable of such imitation.
5. shew your love to Christ in your readi∣ness to take up and patiently bear Christ's cross: I don't say you should desire suffer∣ings for Christ, but sure I am that strong love to Christ will not permit you to de∣cline them; don't go out of God•s way for them, neither go out of God's way from them, if you meet with the cross in the way of duty, don't either turn back, or start aside, but chearfully take it up, & when you have got it up, patiently bear it, and don't throw it off, till God take it off; when it is your du∣ty to suffer for Christ, look upon it also to be your priviledge and be glad of the op∣portunity, rejoycing that you have any thing to part withal for the sake of Christ, if it be good name, or good estate, or good Friends, if it be liberty or life it self; such expressions of love are very honourable and very pleasing to your Lord and Ma∣ster.
6. And lastly, Shew your love to Christ in your desires after Christ's presence here, and in your longing for his second appear∣ance Page 162 at the last day. 1. Desire Christ's Gracious presence here, and the manifesta∣tions thereof, that according to his pro∣mises he would come unto you, that he would draw near, and that you might feel that he is near; desire that you might have clearer discoveries of Christ, and more in∣timate communion and fellowship with Christ; above all company and fellowship, desire the company fellowship and ac∣quaintance with Christ, that you might walk with him and converse with him, and that there might be a dayly intercourse be∣tween Christ and your souls, and that all distances between you, and strangeness might be removed; let your love express it self in desires after Christ when he is ab∣sent, and in delights when he is present; rejoice in the Lord exceedingly when he doth manifest himself unto you graciously, admire his beauty and delight in his smiles, admire his love and delight in the perswasi∣ons of his favour, let the actings of your love, and the workings of it, be such to your beloved dayly. 2. Desire also and long for the second appearance of Christ at the last day; when he saith, Surely I come quickly, do you say, Amen, Even so come Lord Iesus. Look upon time as slow of heel and wing, that it runs no faster, that Page 163 it flies no swifter; look to the End of 〈◊〉, and long for it, because then with these Eyes you shall see him whom your 〈◊〉 loveth, because then you shall see Christ come down from the Throne of God with such Brightness of Majesty, and Brightness of Beauty, as will trans∣port you with Wonder and Joy. Say, When Lord Iesus wilt thou take to thy self thy great Power, and cloath thy self with thy Authority, and come down to judge the World? when wilt thou open the everlasting gates of Heaven which have been shut so long? When wilt thou descend from Heaven with a shout, with the sound of the great Trumpet, and send thine An∣gels to gather all thine Elect from the four Winds, that all who love thee may meet in one Society? when shall we put on our Garments of Immortality, and be caught up in the Clouds to meet thee in the day of thy Triumph? When shall the day of our Coronation come, and of our admissi∣on into the Glorious Mansions which thou hast prepared for us in the Glorious Pal∣lace which is above? When wilt thou shew us thy self, and give us to behold thee face to face? When wilt thou shew us the Father, and give us to behold him immediately without a Glass? When wilt Page 164 thou shew us thy Glory which thou had••• with the Father before the World was 〈◊〉 and give us not onely to see it, but also to share in it? When wilt thou open the Trea•sures of thy Love, and receive us into the nearest, closest, and sweetest embracements thereof, and give us to drink of those Rivers of Pleasures which are with thee? O hasten Lord, hasten thy glorious ap∣pearance, that thou mayest be Glorified be∣fore the whole World, and we be glori∣fied with thee, that we may be then ta∣ken to live with thee, and reign with thee, and be made perfectly happy in the full and everlasting enjoyment of thee.
Thus I have done with these Directi∣ons, the last thing in this Use of Exhor∣tation.
And what do you now say after all Mo∣tives to excite and perswade you to the Love of Christ, and Directions therein? shall all be in vain?
What do you say, Sinners? shall Christ have your hearts or no? will you har∣bour base lusts in your hearts, that will damn you, and keep out the Lord Je∣sus Christ who alone can save you? shall I gain no hearts for Christ by all may Sermons which I have preached concern∣ing the Love of Christ? My Lord and Page 165 Master hath sent me to woe you, to win your hearts for him; may I speed or no? shall my Message be accepted, and Jesus Christ the most lovely person find entertainment with you? If any person or thing in the world which you do most dearly love, do so well deserve your love, lock your ears still against all my words, and let them perish like an empty sound in the Air; lock your hearts against Christ, who stands knocking at the door, and give an absolute and peremptory re∣fusal to give him any room there; But if in the whole world you cannot find out a suitable Beloved besides Christ, if there be nothing here below but is un∣worthy of your hearts, if all inferiour things whilest they have your chief Love do debase you and defile you, and unless your hearts be taken off from them, will certainly ruine and destroy you everlast∣ingly; O then be perswaded without any further delay to open the everlasting doors of your hearts, to let Christ into them, and set Christ up in the highest seat of your Affections; O be perswaded to give Christ your chief Love, to give him your Heart, and your whole heart; with grief and hatred let go your hold of sin, and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ in the Page 166 Arms of your dearest Love. And then I would say to you as our Saviour did to Zacheus when he gave him entertain∣ment in his house, This day is Salvation come unto you. O happy day unto you! O happy you that ever you were born, if this day Christ should be heartily en∣tertained by you! This then would be the day of your Conversion, in which the Angels would rejoyce; and though Grief and Trouble might invade you for a while because of your sin, yet this would make way for your spiritual Joy; weep∣ing might endure for a Night, but joy would come in the Morning; but O the Joy which you will then have in the day of your Coronation, when all tears shall be wiped away from your Eyes, and when you shall have admission into the glorious presence of the Lord, where there is Fulness of Joy and Pleasures for Evermore.
And what do you say, Believers? you that have some Love to Christ, shall this Doctrine, and these Sermons which I have preached, be a means to raise and heighten your Love? Your Love hath been too much mixed, will you love Christ more purely? your love hath been very weak, will you love Christ more Page 167 strongly? Your Love to Christ hath been but a spark, shall it now break forth in∣to a flame? after such blowings, shall there be no burnings? When you think of Christs Person so amiable, his Love so incomparable, his Benefits so ine•timable, shall not this fire your hearts? and will you not now love him more dearly and ar∣dently than ever? will you be perswaded to get off your hearts from Earth and Earthly things, and get up your hearts to your Lord which is in Heaven, and to settle your Love there upon him, so as never to withdraw it from him any more? Will you love the Lord Jesus much, whom you can never love too much? will you now dwell in the Love of Christ, and be more frequent and •ervent in the actings of it? Then O what com∣fort would you find in your Love! and what sweetness in the sense of Christs Love! This would be the surest Evidence that Christ loveth you, because Christ loveth first; and how would this sweeten your passage through the Valley of Affli∣ction, and through the Valley of Death. This would sweeten a bitter cup, and make a sweet cup more sweet. In Life, the sense of Christs Love will be better than life; but at Death this will be the onely stay Page 168 and support which you can have, nothing else can give any well-grounded comfort in a dying hour. Death rageth and play∣eth the Tyrant every where, shooteth his Arrowes hither and thither, sometimes he smiteth those that are Elder than your selves, and sometimes those that are Younger; sometimes those that are weak∣er than your selves, sometimes those that are stronger; sometimes those that are better, sometimes those that are worse; sometimes the righteous are smitten, sometimes the wicked; sometimes the profane, and sometimes the Professors; that all might be awakened to prepare. And what is it that can give you com∣fort when you come to the sides of the pit? You may have the Love of your dear Yoke-fellowes, weeping and mourn∣ing at your Bed-side, Children Kindred and Friends wringing their hands, and looking with a pitifull countenance upon you, grieving to part with you, but what comfort can all their Love yield un∣to your departing Spirits? their Love may disturb you, and make you the more unwilling to dye and leave them, because they are so unwilling to part with you. But the Love of Christ and sense there∣of, will be a Comfort indeed, because he Page 169 is a Friend whom you are not departing from, but going unto, and O the delight which then you may have, when Friends look most sad, and Death looks most grim, when the trembling Joynts, the clammy Sweats, the intermitting Pulse, the falling Jawes, the rat•ing Throat, and other symptomes give notice of near ap∣proaching Death! then to think, I am now come not onely to the Door of Eter∣nity, but also to the Gate of my Fathers House, where many Saints are gone before me, and many Angels are attending for me, and where my dearly beloved Iesus is, and hath prepared for my Reception and eternal Habitation: Here are Friends about my ••d-side, who ere long will con∣vey 〈…〉 to the Grave, to be fed upon by 〈…〉 are Angels also by my bed-side 〈…〉 Soul, that so soon as it is loosned 〈…〉 Carkase, they may convey me 〈…〉 Para∣dise: Within a few 〈…〉 and I shall be with my dearest 〈…〉 Faith will be swallowed up 〈…〉 Hope in Fruition, and my 〈…〉 to Perfection. O the Glorious 〈…〉 there and then will shine into every 〈…〉 of my mind! O the Love and Ioy and ••∣effable Delight, when I come to see and Page 170 enjoy and live for ever with my most dearly Beloved! This, This onely will make you willing to Dye, and this sense of Christ's Love will effectually sweeten your passage through the dark Entry of Death.
An APPENDIX Concerning Christ's Manifestation of Himself unto them that love him.
Joh. XIV. latter part of vers. 21.
WE read, Luk. 4. 22. And all bare him witness, and wondred at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. Never did such gracious and sweet words drop from the lips of any man that ever lived, as those from the lips of Christ when he was here upon the Earth; and of all Christ's words, those which he spake to his Disciples in his last Sermon, before his last Suffering, in the 14, 15, and 16 Chapters of Iohn, are superlatively sweet, and none more sweet in this Sermon than the words of my Text read unto you, And Page 172 he that loveth me shall be loved of my Fa∣ther, and I will love him, and will manifest my self unto him. In the former part of the verse we have the Character of one that doth truely love Christ: He that hath my Commandements and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. In the latter part of the verse which is my Text, we have the Priviledge of one that doth truely love Christ, and that is in three Promises which Christ doth make unto him: 1. He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father. 2. And I will love him. 3. And will mani∣fest my self unto him. It is the last of these Promises which I shall speak unto by way of Appendix unto my Treatise of the Love which true Christians have and ought to have unto Christ, and that is the Promise of Christs manifesting himself unto such as love him. And the Doctrine is this.
Doct. That Christ will manifest him∣self unto such as love him.
In handli•g of this point I shall shew, 1. What it is for Christ to manifest him∣self. 2. That Christ will manifest himself to them that love him. 3. How Christ doth manifest himself unto such. 4. When Christ doth manifest himself unto such. 5. Where Christ doth manifest himself unto such as love him. 6. And lastly, make some Application.
1. WHat it is for Christ to mani∣fest Himself?
1. Christ doth manifest himself when he maketh a clearer discoverie unto His Disciples of the excellency of His Per∣son, when he doth further unveil himself, and lets forth some beams and rays, with greater lustre and brightness, to discover more of the oriency and transcendency of his soul-ravishing beauty unto them, which they had but a dimme• sight and darker apprehensions of before; and this is done when Christ doth more fully im∣part of the spirit of wisdom and revelati∣on unto them. Upon this account the Apostle did pray in the behalf of the be∣lieving Ephesians, that the Lord would give them the spirit of wisdom and reve∣lation to enlighten their understandings in the knowledge of him, Eph. 1. 16, 17, 18. they had the spirit before and some know∣ledge of Christ before, but he prayes that God would give them fuller mea∣sures of the spirit, to make a clearer dis∣covery of Christ, that the eyes of their understandings might be more and more Page 174 enlightened unto a more spiritual discern∣ing of the surpassing Beauty and Excel∣lency in Christ's person, in the know∣ledge of whom the most enlightned Christians are capable of further growth unto the end of their life, hence that Ex∣hortation of the Apostle Peter, 2 Pet. 3. 18. But grow in grace and in the know∣ledge of our Lord and Saviour Iesus Christ.
2. Christ doth manifest himself, when he maketh a deep impression, and giveth a sweet sense to his Disciples of his pre∣sence; Christ is never really absent from such as Love him, but he may Seem to be so sometimes, they may apprehend him to be a far off, he may and often doth with∣draw the sense of his presence; Cant. 5, 6. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone. Christ doth manifest himself, when he doth draw near to his people, and maketh them feel that he is near, giving them a sweet sense of his presence through the powerful breathings of his Spirit upon them, whereby their hearts are quickned and enlarged, and drawn forth towards himself, and their graces excited unto powerful exercise.
3. And chiefly Christ doth Manifest Himself, when He makes discovery of Page 175 His Love unto them that love him; when He gives them to see not only the beauty of His face, but also the smiles of His face, when He gives them to behold the amiableness of His countenance, and withall lifts up upon them the light of His countenance, when he sheddeth a∣broad the sense of His Love into their hearts, giving them a full perswasion of His special Love unto them, and also a sweet sense thereof. Thus Christ doth sometime look kindly, and speak kind∣ly unto his people, and this sweet Language is not spoken to the ear of the body, but inwardly by His Spirit to to their souls, when he saith to the soul, I am thy salvation and thy Saviour, I have loved thee with an everlasting Love, and my Love is vnchangeable; The Mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my loving kindness shall never depart, and be removed from thee; I have given my self for thee, and I have given my self unto thee, and I will never repent of this gift; I have chosen thee for my self, called and joyned thee unto my self, and I will ne∣ver repent of this choice, nor suffer thee to be disjoyned from me for ever; I have thee upon my heart, and keep thee in my hand, and no powers of Earth or Hell shall Page 176 be able to pluck thee thence; I have given thee my grace, and I will shew thee my glo∣ry, and ere long I will appear in the world and receive thee to my self, that where I am there thou mayest be also. Dry up then thy tears, clear up thy countenance, banish thy fears, droop no longer, dispond no more, but be of good chear, thy sins are forgiven thee, thy name is written in my book which none can blot out, Thou hast a true Love for me, and my Father himself loveth thee, and I love thee with a most endeared Love, and therefore do not question or doubt of my Love any more. Thus Christ doth manifest himself and his Love sometimes unto drooping disponding souls.
2. THat Christ will manifest himself unto them that love him, appears, in that His Love doth engage Him, and His word doth engage Him hereunto. His Love doth •ngage Him, The Love of Christ is like fire, that cannot conceal it self long, and no fire so strong, and hath such a vehement flame as the Love of Christ to His people. Ioseph had a great love to his Brethren notwithstanding all Page 177 their unkindness, and although he con∣cealed himself for a while, and spake roughly unto them, yet after they were sensible of their fault, and were filled with perplexing fears, he could con∣ceal himself no longer from them, as in Gen. 45. 1. Then Ioseph could not refrain himself before all that stood by him, he wept alou•, and said unto his brethren, I am Ioseph, and ver. 4. Ioseph said unto his brethren, come near me, I am Ioseph your brother whom ye sold into Egypt. So Christ may conceal himself for a while from his people, whatever love he hath to them, and whatever they have to him; some unkindnesses they have shewn may be the cause of this hiding, but when they are sensible of their fault, full of grief and perplexity for their offences, his Love will not permit him to hid himself much longer; His Love will engage Him to manifest and discover himself, and say, I am Jesus your Saviour, come near me my brethren, come near me, that you may have a clearer view of me, that ye may know me and know that I do love you. The Word also of Christ doth engage him manifest Himself unto them that Love Him: It is Christs promise here in the Text, He that loveth me shall be loved of Page 178 my Father, and I will Love him, and will manifest my self unto him. Christs word is sure, True and faithfull is Christs name; the ordinances of the heaven may sooner fail, than Christ fail of His Word and Pro∣mise.
3. HOw Christ doth manifest Him∣self unto them that Love him.
1. Christ doth here in this world mani∣fest himself but in part and darkly. The soul is not now capable of the fullest and clearest Manifestation of Christs, This is a happiness reserved for the other world, 1. Ioh. 3. 2. Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, Ioh. 17. 24. Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me. It is Here∣after that Christs Disciples shall be per∣fectly like unto Christ, and shall have a perfect manifestation of Christ, that they shall see him as he is: It is Hereafter that they shall behold his glory; The lustre Page 179 and brightness of Christs glory is so great that should he now let forth the beams thereof upon them, it would da∣zle and amaze them, it would strike them blinde, yea it would strike them dead; there is need, because of their weakness, that Christ should keep a veil on his face, when he makes discovery of himself, they cannot now bear the full patefaction and manifestation of Christ; therefore Christ doth discover himself but in part. As the Queen of Sheba saith concerning So∣lomons wisdom and prosperity, 1. King. 10. 6, 7. It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts, and thy wisdom; how∣beit I believed not the words, until I came and mine eyes had seen it; and behold the one half was not told me, thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame thereof. It is not the one half which Christs Disci∣ples do now hear or can discern of their masters excellencies. It hath not now en∣tred into their hearts to conceive what Beauties and Glories and most admirable perfections there are hid in their Beloved; not only Christ's Love but also Christ's Loveliness doth pass their knowledge; there are such dimensions of most won∣derful Glory in Christ's person, as do in∣finitely transcend the capacity of the most Page 180 elevated minds, fully to comprehend. Christ doth manifest himself truly to them that Love him, yet it is but partly, and that but a little part, it is but darkly by the beams of a more obscure light, 1 Cor. 13. 9, 10, 11, 12. For we know in part, and prophesie in part; But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away: When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things: For now we see thorow a glass darkly, but then Face to Face; Now I know in part, then I shall know as I am known. We Ministers 〈…〉 part, we can tell you but a little of what there really is in Christ, and both we and you know but in part; our conceptions of Christs excellencies and our expressions now are childish, hereaf∣ter there will be a perfect manifestation of Christ, and then all imperfections of knowledge will be removed. Now you may see Christ, but it is through a glass darkly; hereafter face to face: Indeed it is said, 2 Cor. 3. 18. We all with open face beholding as in a glass the Glory of the Lord are changed, &c. There is a com∣parative open discovery of Christ now in Gospel-times, over what there was un∣der Page 181 the Law; the veil of Types and Fi∣gures, which covered and in a great measure hid Christ from the view, is now removed, our face is now open from that veil, but Christs face is not fully open, there is glass still between our eye and Christ's face (the glass of Ordinances which though it doth help us to see him, yet it keeps us from the clearest discovery of him) we see but thorow a glass darkly; our eyes now need this glass to help our weakness, and that we may see what we do see: there is a time coming when we shall be above the need and use of the Or∣dinance-glasses, I mean when we shall see Christ face to face, and know him in hea∣ven as we are known by him.
2. Christ doth now manifest himself gra∣dually unto them that Love him, Christ doth not shew at once & altogether what he means to discover of himself and of his Love, but he doth it by degrees, a little at one time, and a little at another time, a little in this Ordinance, and a little in that; now he lets down some comfortable beams of the light of his countenance into the soul, by and by clouds do arise and ob∣scure this light, and darkness is upon the spirit: Sometimes Christ opens the cur∣tain Page 182 and looks upon the soul, gives gra∣cious smiles, by and by the curtain is drawn, and his face is hid; now he ap∣pears, and then he disappears; he manife∣steth himself at one time, withdraws him∣self at another time, and so leads his people on from one discovery of himself unto another, until he bringeth them at last unto the full discovery of himself in Glory.
3. Christ doth manifest himself most sweetly unto them that Love him, espe∣cially after long absence. When the soul hath been seeking and cannot finde him, wandring in the wilderness under amazing fears, perplexing doubts, doleful despon∣dencies, sinking and heart-overwhelming grief; after a black night of deep deserti∣on, Oh how sweet is the day-spring from on high! Oh how comfortable are the bright beams of the morning light! when he shineth upon their dark and despised and sorrowful spirits, giving them to know assuredly that they are the dearly beloved of his Soul, that he hath not for∣gotten them, that he will not forsake them, that he hath a more tender Love unto them than the mother to her sucking child! Oh the ravishments of spirit! Oh the transports of soul which do arise from Page 183 hence! O the songs which are then in their mouths. This is our beloved, we have waited for him! this is our dear Redeem∣er we have trusted in him! Tongue can∣not express the delight, the joy and glad∣ness of heart, which doth arise from the manifestation of Christ's presence and love; the joy of harvest, the joy of the Bridegroom on the wedding day, the joy of victory and taking great spoils, spoils from an Enemy, the joy of a poor man in finding great treasures; and the greatest de∣light which ever was found in the sweetest sensual enjoyment is not worthy to be compared with the joys and exaltings of heart, in the manifestation of Christ unto the Soul.
4. WHen doth Christ manifest him∣self unto them that love him?
1. Sometime Christ doth quickly ma∣nifest himself, after a little seeking; some young Converts have early and soon dis∣scoveries of Christ and his love; they are cast down for a little while, and Christ soon comes unto them and lifts them up again; weeping endures but for a night, Page 184 and that a short summer night, and joy cometh early in the morning; they have the spirit of bondage who awakeneth them to fear, by & by the Spirit of Adopti∣on doth graciously visit them, and make discovery of their relation to the Father, the love of their Saviour, and sheddeth abroad the sense of his love into their hearts.
2. Sometimes Christ is long before he manifest himself; it is long before some do seek Christ, and it is long before such do find him: Christ waites long to be graci∣ous unto them, & Christ doth often make them wait long before he manifesteth to them his loving kindnesses; yea some∣times early seekers are not early finders; Christ makes some wait a long time to try their faith and patience, the•r love and o∣bedience, and that he may prepare them for more than ordinary comforts and sweet∣ness which he intendeth to give in the dis∣covery of himself unto them.
3. Sometimes Christ doth suddenly manifest himself unto them that love him, Cant. 6. 12. Or ever I was aware my Soul made me like the Charets of Aminadab, or ever they are aware they see the Chari∣ots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, and Page 185 the Lord Jesus doth come unto them in the Chariots of Salvation with such Glo∣ry and Lustre as doth transport and amaze them. Some Christians that truely love Christ, have sought him in this Ordi∣nance, and have not found him, and they have sought Christ in that Ordi∣nance, and have not found him; they have been looking and waiting and hoping that at this time Christ would discover himself, or at that time he would disco∣ver himself, and still he hath hid himself, still they have come off with disappoint∣ment; this hath been their Grief, this they have complained of before God, and they have been under fears lest they should never see him, never meet with him at all; hereupon their Spirits have been ready to fail and sink within them, and in discouragement they have been ready to say or think that all their labour would be in vain; and yet they have re∣solved to seek him to their death, and though he should kill them, to put their trust in him: And behold on a sudden, when they have had the least expectati∣on, and their hope hath been ready to give up the Ghost, they have met with Christ, and found him whom their Soul loveth; on a sudden the Veil of the Tem∣ple Page 186 hath been rent, and they have seen their Beloved in the Holy of Holies; on a sudden the clouds have fled, their dark∣ness hath passed away, and the light hath shined; the North-wind of trouble hath ceased, and the sweet Southern Gales have blown upon them; I mean they have been under such shinings and breath∣ings of the Spirit, that they have seen and felt the presence of Christ; and such a sweet sense of his Love, as hath filled them with Soul-revishing Joy.
4. Christ doth manifest himself Seaso∣nably unto them that Love him. Though he doth not alwayes manifest himself when they most desire, yet he doth mani∣fest himself when they have most need, and then they have most need when they are most low, when they are most low in their Spirits, most poor and mean in their own esteem, as well as most low in their condition through Affliction and Trouble; Humility and Patience under Affliction, doth make way for the Expe∣rience of Christ's manifestation; Christ doth many times reserve his Cordials for the Fainting sits, and the sweetest Con∣solations in the discoveries of his Love for the time of the greatest Adversity; espe∣cially, Page 187 when the trouble is for his sake, he is graciously present; Iohn had his Visions when he was Banished for the sake of Christ unto the Isle Patmos. And when all men forsook Paul at his answer be∣fore Nero, then the Lord came to him, stood by him and strengthned him.
5. WHere doth Christ manifest him∣self unto them that love him? This is in the way of his Ordinances, there he doth walk, there he doth appear unto his People; sometimes Christ doth mani∣fest himself in the way of private Ordi∣nances, when they seek him in their Fa∣milies, or in their Closets, when they speak of him in conference, or when they think of him in their Meditation and Contemplation; sometimes Christ doth manifest himself unto them that love him in the way of Publick Ordinances, in Publick Prayer or Fasting, in hearing of the Word, or when they are Feasting at his Table, especially in this •ast men∣tioned Ordinance Christ doth frequently manifest himself unto his Disciples most Page 188 sweetly: At the Lords Table, the Lord doth appear; in breaking of Bread he discovers himself, as to the Disciples that went to Immaus; in his Banquetting-house he gives them to feast on his Love; There are many who can say by experi∣ence, that if ever they met with Christ in their Lives, and in any Ordinance, they have met with him at the Sacrament, there he hath unveiled his face, there he hath revealed his Love, there he hath breathed upon them by his Spirit, there they have found and felt the Lord to be near.
I Come now to the Application: And here that I may to give to every one his Portion, I shall speak, 1. To you that have no Love unto Christ: 2. To you that have some Love to Christ, but are without these Manifestations. 3. To you that both love Christ, and have Ma∣nifestations of his love unto you.
Vse 1. The First Use doth concern such as have no love at all unto Christ: Christ will manifest himself unto them Page 189 that love him, this is Childrens Bread, and doth not belong to you, because you do not belong unto Christ; this is a choise and most rich Priviledge, but you have nothing to do with it; Procul ite Profani. Avant all ye profane ones, all ye unclean ones, all ye ungodly ones, all Unbelievers whatsoever, who being with∣out Faith, are also without Love to Christ; see that you come not neer to lay your unclean hands upon this most ex∣cellent Promise; never look for any dis∣covery of Christs love unto you whilest you go on in wayes of Sin, whilest you are in your Natural Estate. I believe some of you may be ready to say, What if Christ doth not manifest himself unto us? let us have our Honours and Dignity, let us have our Wealth and Plenty, let us have our Friends and Delights, and let who will look after those aiery and fancifull Sa∣tisfactions in Christs Manifestations. Sin∣ners, is this your language either of tongue or heart? Let me tell you, one day you will sing another tune, you will be of another mind; one day you will acknow∣ledge, that all the Happiness which you so eagerly pursued in the sweetest crea∣ture-enjoyments, was but a Fancy, that it was thin, light and aiery; that it was Page 190 vain and empty, when all is fled away and left nothing behind but Stings and bitter Grief, but inward wounds, gripes, and dreads, upon the sight of approach∣ing Death, and under apprehensions of approaching Wrath, and eternal Tor∣ments in Hell. Then what would you give for an Interest in Jesus Christ, and a well-grounded Perswasion of his special Love unto your Souls? Then the Mani∣festations of Christ will appear to be no aiery thing, and that nothing besides this can rationally support your Souls when you come to the Borders of the Grave, and to the Confines of Eternity. And let me further tell you that have no love to Christ, that although Christ whilest you are such will never manifest himself unto you in a way of Love, yet there is a Day coming when he will Manifest himself unto you, but this Manifestation will be with a Vengeance, it will be in a way of most Furious anger; I mean, at the last day of Judgement, when Christ will be revealed from Heaven, not onely to those that Love him, but also to those that Hate him, for every eye shall then see him, and he will come in flaming Fire to take Vengeance upon you that have not obeyed this Gospel-Precept, to Love Page 191 him. The Consideration of this should awaken you to fear and fly from Sin, which otherwise will be your ruine and eternal Perdition; and O that withall you would be perswaded to apply your selves unto the Lord Jesus Christ by Faith, that you may hereby have Interest in him, and in that great Salvation which he hath pur∣chased for you, and which in the Gospel in freely tendred unto you! and this Faith in Christ would work Love to Christ, and put you in a capacity of these Ma∣nifestations of Christ's Love unto your Souls.
Vse 2. THe second Use concerneth such of you as have some Love un∣to Christ, but are without these Mani∣festations; and there are two sorts of such: 1. Some of you never had these Mani∣festations. 2. Some of you have had these Manifestations, but have lost them.
1. Some of you never had these Mani∣festations of Christ's Love. It may be you are young and raw Christians, a little Page 192 while ago you were forward Scholars in the School of the Devil, and served divers lu•ts with all your might and strength; the Lord hath lately hedg'd up your way with thorns, hath opened your eyes to see your sins, and made you sen∣sible of your danger, but as yet your eyes are not open as to any comfortable sight of your Saviour; Indeed Christ hath been revealed unto you as able and wil∣ling to save you, and you have been drawn by the Word and Spirit to take hold on him, and to give up your selves unto him; but as yet you are in the da•k as to your Spiritual Estate; you are un∣der doubts and fears of unsoundness and rottenness at heart, that you are Hypo∣crites, and shall fall away, as other Pro∣fessors like your selves have done; you fear you shall one day perish by the hand of Saul, that the Devil and your own Lusts will be too hard for you, and pre∣vail so far with you, as to pull you back into wayes of S•n, and thereby to pull yo• down into the bot•omless Pit of Hell: This causeth a dread upon your spirits, and fearf•ll apprehensions of Gods wrath and future Vengeance; this f•tcheth ma∣ny a sad and heavy sigh from your breasts, many a brinish tear from your eyes, you Page 193 are troubled, bowed down greatly, and go mourning all the day: Yet you are resolved to give your attendance still un∣to Ordinances, and there to wait upon the Lord, and for the Lord; you are re∣solved, notwithstanding all discourage∣ments, that you will be the Lords, though you know not whether he be yours; you are resolved that Christ shall have your hearts, and you will venture your Souls upon him, though you know not whe∣ther you are accepted by him. This may be a Use of Encouragement unto you; certainly you are such as love Christ, and are beloved by Christ, and Christ will manifest himself unto such as have such Love; let me tell you, that Christ is not far from you, whatever you may appre∣hend, though he be out of your sight, yet you are not out of his, his eye is upon you, and his heart is towards you; he hears all your sighs, he sees all your tears, he pities you, and sympathizeth with you in all your Griefs; he loves you, and ere long will let you know it; he is now preparing you for sweet disco∣veries of himself, and ere long he will give you those discoveries. If you fol∣low on to seek him, he will certainly and may suddenly be found of you: And Page 194 who knows but this may be the time of Christ's manifesting his Love? It may be whilest you are Reading this Discourse, you may have a glimpse of his face, and hear his Vo•ce saying unto you, Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you. Lift up the Hands that hang down, lift up the Heart that is cast down; Look up then dejected Soul, thy Saviour is be∣fore thee, open thine Eyes and look, look with the Eye of Faith, canst thou not see a marvellous Beauty in his coun∣tenance? dost thou not perceive some smiles in his Face, some Smiles upon thy Soul? Dost thou not feel his Spirit sweetly breathing upon thine heart, per∣swading thee, and giving thee a sweet sense of Christ's peculiar Love unto thee? Dost thou not perceive some inward knockings at the door of thine heart, and hear some inward callings? Open to me, and I will come in and sup with thee: This is the Voice of thy Beloved; make haste and open to him, open all the Fa∣culties of thy Soul, lift up the Everlast∣ing Gates to this King of Glory; send forth the Handmaids of thy Desires to invite the Lord in, let thy Faith take hold on him and usher him into thy Soul, and then embrace him in the Arms of thy Page 195 dearest Love, and give him such enter∣tainment that he may abide with thee for ever.
2. There are others of you have had some manifestations of Christ unto you formerly, but you have lost them: your beloved hath withdrawn himself and is gone, you call and he giveth no answer, you seek him, but you cannot find him. Time hath been when your Lord was pre∣sent, and gave you Gracious visits fre∣quently, many a secret smile you have seen in his face, many a comfortable word you have had from his mouth, many a love-token you have received at his hand: Time hath been when you had your evi∣dences written out fair and clean, with the Seal of the Spirit set unto them, and how exceedingly did you then rejoice in the sense of Christ's love? how did you feast your selves upon his rich entertain∣ment of Gospel-priviledges which through him you were invested withal? And O the admirings which then you had of free Grace! O the sweet meltings of heart in the kindly sense of sin! O the enlarge∣ments of desire which you had in your Prayers! O the burnings of love to Christ which you have often felt in your bosomes! O the lively hopes which you Page 196 had, and ineffable delight in hope of the Glory of God! But now there is a strange decay within you of Grace, and Alterati∣on as if you were not the same Men and Women as you were before. You have withdrawn your selves from Christ, and he hath withdrawn himself from your Souls: you have let down your watch, and the Devil hath got advantage against you by his devices, he hath watched his opportunity and entangled you in the snares of some sins; whilst you have heedlesly gone to the utmost confines of duty, and been upon the borders of sin, the Devil hath sent forth a •quadron of temptations not with fiery darts, but with silken cords, which have treated and par∣lyed with you to entice and perswade to go a little further, they have told you what pleasant fru•t doth grow within those bor∣ders most sweet and delicious to the t•ste; that there are Silver and Golden Mines which you might quickly dig up, and find precious substance; that there you might have honour and esteem, and what would you turn your back upon all these? would you be so nice and strict as not to despense with a little duty, as not to step over the hedge a little way, where the delights and advantage would be so great. Page 197 And if you have hesitated, they have told you that it was very disputable, whether the confines of duty did not reach beyond the place which they would bring you un∣to, propounding the example of others of the same Religious Profession, that have frequently gone so far, and why should you scruple: or if it were a trans∣gression it was but a little transgression, they would not desire you to go far, and who is there that lives and doth not trans∣gresse those bounds? and you might easi∣ly repent and find mercy if God were of∣fended; you might quickly retire and re∣turn into your former limits; then whilst you have been parlying with temptations, the silken cords have been fastned about you, and e're you have been aware you have been drawn along, partly willing and partly unwilling, and enticed unto some kind of sins, and complyed with some kind of lusts, indulging your selves to give them satisfaction, whereby you have been beguil'd, and befool'd, whereby you have been secretly wounded and in∣wardly defiled; and thus your evidences for Heaven have been miserably blotted, so that now you are not able to read them. Time hath been when worldly Affections seemed to be mortified within you, to Page 198 be dead and buryed, many a sore thrust and wound you had given unto them, and how did they bleed and faint, and grew so weak that they seemed to be giving up the Ghost, and you have thought sure•y they would never ••ir much in you any more; and then your love to Christ was strong and active, it did burn and flame within you▪ and O the zeal which you then had for your Masters honour, and you seemed to have no interest to carry on in the world but the interest of Christ, and you minded not your own things upon your own account, but all your interests were swallowed up in the interest of Jesus Christ, which you chiefly minded and ca∣red for, and made every thing else to truckle under it, and to be subservient unto it; but now your affections to Christ are strangely cooled; if there be the fire of love to Christ still within you, it is not fire in burning coals, or in a vehement flame, but it is a fire in a few scattered sparks, and those raked over that they give neither light nor heat, and are hard∣ly, if at all, discernable by you; and your wordly Affections which seem'd to be dead, they have gotten Spirit and Life and Vigour, and Strength: O the eager desire which you have after the world, and Page 199 the things in the world, and these accom∣panied with eager prosecution of the world, now the world hath your thoughts in contrivements about it, and the world hath your tongues in your most frequent discourse of it, now the world hath your hand and your time, but that which is worst of all, the world hath your heart too, the world hath justled Christ off of his Throne and for the present doth usurp his seat. And is it then a wonder if your be∣loved be offended that you should thus decline in your love, that your hearts should go a whoring from him unto the Creature, in your giving those affections unto any thing in the world which are his due? Hence it is that Christ hath shut up his count•nance from you, or if he looks, it is with frowns upon you; you have lost your first love, and you have lost your first sights, and your first tastes of the Love of Christ; now your spiritual joys and comforts are fled out of sight, they are lost and gone, and the bare re∣membrance of them only doth remain, and whatever delights you have they are only such as come in at the door of sense, you have none at all that come in at the door of faith, and your sensual delights have expelled and banished your spiritu∣all; Page 200 now the rich Gospel-priviledges have not that savor and sweet relish with you as heretofore; your minding and savour∣ing so much the Earth and Earthly things, hath disrelished your spiritual appetite. O the mischief which indulged sin hath done unto you! O the unfelt wounds, but so much the more deep and dangerous, which sin hath given you! O the de∣filements of sin in your Consciences, and the stains & blots which sin hath cast upon your profession! O the havock which sin hath made amongst your graces, and a∣mongst your comforts! Leaves you have still of an outward profession, but where is your fruit to be found? If you have some fruit, is it not withered fruit, •our and ill-rellished, not such ripe and mel∣low and sweet fruit as heretofore in your flourishing estate? Surely the Lord is at a 〈◊〉 distance from such of you, and are there not too many such amongst you? And what need have you to remember whence you are to fallen, to ransack your hearts to find out your sins, to humble your selves deeply, to repent and grieve and mourn, to turn your laughter into weeping, and your joy into heaviness, and to return unto the Lord speedily and do your first works▪ Page 201 otherwise some fearefull judgements are like to befall you, and the Lord may be even forced to awaken you with a ven∣geance, and make you a terrour unto your selves and unto all about you: Don't pro∣voke the Lord, by your thus running away from him, to follow you with a storm as he did Ionas, and to devour you in the floods and waves of dreadfull afflictions, that hereby he may reduce and restore you, and keep you from being drowned in ut∣ter perdition and eternal destruction. It may be the Lord hath scourged some of you for your faults with the rods of some crosses and disappointments, some out∣ward losses and troubles; it may be he hath put bitternesse upon those breasts which you have been sucking, and ming∣ling gall in the cup of your pleasures which you have been drinking; and you have begun to think of your evil wayes, and seen what an evil thing and bitter it is to backslide from the Lord; and you have thought it was best with you when you were nearest unto Christ. It may be God hath dealt with you as he telleth his back∣sliding people he would do with them, Hos. 2. 6, 7. Behold I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths: Aud she shall fol∣low Page 202 after her Lovers, but she shall not over∣take them, and she shall seek them, but she shall not finde them; Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now. And now you are seeking after your Beloved, but he hath withdrawn himself from you, and seems to take no notice of you; you call and cry, and sigh, and weep, and la∣ment, and complain, and seek, and wait, and yet he withholds from you all special discoveries of his Love: Possibly doubts may hence arise, and fears grow upon your spirits, and you are ready to sink, and sometimes are almost over∣whelmed with inward trouble. Let this Doctrine be an encouragement to you still to seek diligently and wait patiently, for the Lord will manifest himself again unto you in his own time, which is the best time: He may try you for a while whether you will follow him in the dark, he may suffer you to wait some time for him, who have made him to wait so long time for you; But if you persevere to seek him diligently in his wayes, you shall finde that it will not be in vain. And what would you say, ye backsliding souls, if the Lord should manifest him∣self unto you at this time? would you Page 203 not abuse his kindness? if he should discover his Love to you again, would you not grow wanton and carnally secure? if he should now renew your evidences and give them fair written, and easie to be read by you, would you not blot them again by your sins? if he should now speak peace unto your Consciences, would you not again return unto folly? If he should now restore unto you the joyes of his salvation, and send down the Ho∣ly Ghost from Heaven to come unto you, to be your comforter and to dwell with you, would you not griev and quench the Spirit and provoke him to a∣nother retirement, and more dreadfull withdrawings than before? It may be the Lord will try you; it may be the Lord may draw near and make some dis∣covery of himself, and discovery of his Love unto you: it may be the Lord may look kindly now upon you, and secretly by hi• Spirit speak kindly unto you: you are now looking and longing, and hoping, and waiting, possibly this may be the time of your seeing his face, and the smiles that are there, of your feeling the sweet shed∣dings abroad of his Love into your hearts by his Spirit, at least he may give you a glimpse, a glance, a little taste, such as shall Page 204 ravish your hearts. However wait for him, and with earnest desires and impor∣tunate requests, plead with him for his re∣turns, and these manifestations, and that in such kinde of Language as this: Come Lord Iesus, Come quickly, make haste O my beloved, make haste to my soul that thirst∣eth for thee, as the parched land after the sweet showers that fall from heaven, as the h•nted Hart after the cooling and refresh∣ing streams of the water-brooks. O when shall I drink of those waters of Life which thou hast to give, who art the fountain and spring from whence they flow? when shall I taste again how good thou art? when shall I see thee again, and feed, and feast my soul again with thy love? when Lord, O when wilt thou come unto me? wilt thou cast off for ever? wilt thou be favourable no more? hast thou in anger shut up thy bowels? shall this cloud alwayes sit upon thy brow? shall this curtain alwayes be drawn before thy face? Truth Lord, I have grievously sin∣ed, and greatly offended thee; but have I not, do I not truly repent? is there any thing in the world so grievous unto me as the re∣membrance of my miscariages? I acknow∣ledge my offence, my folly and horrid ingra∣titude; but shall my sins be alwayes a wall of separation between me and my beloved? Page 205 are not thy bowels tender? are not thy mer∣cies plentifu•l? is there not forgiven••s with thee that thou mayest be feared and the more dearly beloved? dost thou not forgive freely without upbraiding? hast thou not promised to be found of all them that dili∣gently seek thee? and didst thou ever fail in thy word unto any? and shall I be the first? are •ot the desires of my Soul after thee, and that Chiefly, and that Earnestly? Is there not dearth and drought in all things beneath thy self, nothing that can give me satisfaction? have I not renounced the World for my Portion? Thou mightest send me to the World for help and comfort, to the World which I have over-earnestly de∣sired and loved, and over-eagerly •ought for contentment and happiness in; But is this thy wont, and thy way, and the man∣ner of thy dealing with them that are grieved for their Sin, and ashamed of their Folly? Hast thou not promised to mani∣fest thy self unto them that love thee? and do not I love thee? dost not thou who knowest all things, know that I love thee? though my Love be imperfect, yet is it not true? though it be weak, yet is it not sin∣cere? else whence are these desires after Thee above all Persons and Things in the World? are not these the product of true Page 206 Love? and wilt thou not make good thy Promise then, to manifest thy self unto me? and if I had the Manifestations of thy Love, would not my love grow and en∣crease hereby? Should I not love the more dearly and strongly, if I had clear disco∣veries, and were perswaded assuredly of thy love unto me? Truth Lord, I am al∣together unworthy of such a favour; but didst thou ever bestow this favour upon any for their deserts? are not all thy Gifts free? and am not I as capable as any of Free-grace? the more unworthy, the more I shall admire thee; the more is forgiven, I shall love the more; And may I not now have a taste of thy Loving kindness? Hasten my Beloved, O hasten unto me, and be as a Roe upon the Mountains of Spices! Do not veil thy face from me any longer, do not conceal thy love, but now, O now draw near, and make me exceed∣ing glad in the light of thy Countenance, and in the beauty of thy Face, and smiles thereof. Such desires and pleadings as these might prevail with the Lord forth∣with to return again unto you, and to say, Well Soul, I have heard thy Prayer, thy breathing, and thy cry; thy pleadings have prev••ed with me, and I am now come unto thee, and be it to thee according Page 207 to thy Desires; Come Soul, and look up, lift up thine eyes, and see, Here I am, Behold me, Behold me; this day I am come to bring glad tydings of great Ioy unto thee. I assure thee, that I am thine, and all mine is thine, and thou art mine, and shalt be mine for ever. And what words can found so sweet and yield such com∣fort, as these or such like, spoken by the Spirit unto the hearts of those from whom Christ is withdrawn?
Vse 3. THe Third Use doth concern you that do love Christ, and have the Manifestations of his Love to your Souls: Three things be exhorted unto; 1. Rejoyce in the Lord. 2. Ad∣mire his Free Grace. 3. Labour to re∣tain these Manifestations.
1. You that have the Manifestations of the Love of Christ, Rejoyce in the Lord; of all Persons in the world, you have most reason to rejoyce, you are the happiest men and women alive. It is not Page 208 Wealth in the greatest abundance which can make men happy, the richest Persons have often thorns of the greatest discontent to pierce their hearts, and Stings of the greatest guilt to wound their Consciences: It is not the highest Honour and worldly Dignity which can make men happy; the vilest men are often exalted, and those that are in the Highest places, are in the most Slippery places, from whence they are soon cast down into destruction, and whatever security they have in Life, yet they are usually consumed utter∣ly with Terrours when grim Death doth appear and summon them to de∣part. It is not the sweetest sensual De∣light which can make men happy; Va∣nity is the Attendant, and Vex•tion of Spirit is the Consequent of all those plea∣sures that are sensual and sinfull, which are the seed also of Pain and Everlasting torment: Such onely can be said to be happy in truth, as are really united and related unto Jesus Christ, and through him reconciled unto God, and entituled unto the Kingdom of Heaven; but you are the most happy, and have reason to take the most comfort, who have not onely Relation unto Christ, but also the Manifestations of him; who know that Page 209 Christ is yours, and you are his, that Christ loveth you, and that his Love, as it had no beginning, so it is without changing, and will know no ending. If you know that Christ loveth you, you have reason to rejoyce, because hereby you may know assuredly that you are Elected, that God by an eternal and un∣changeable Decree hath chosen you, when he hath chosen so few of fallen Men, and none of the fallen Angels, and when there was not the least foreseen Motive to in∣duce him hereunto; the assurance of this may yield unexpressible sweetness unto you. If you know that Christ loveth you, you may know assuredly your Ef∣fectual Calling, Conversion, and won∣derfull Union unto Christ; and O what matter of Joy is it to think, how God hath called you out of Darkness into his marvellous Light! how he hath delive∣red you out of the Snare of the Devil, and the bonds of your own Lusts, and set your Souls at liberty! how he hath wrought a Miracle in your first Resur∣rection from the Grave and spiritual death of Sin, & put forth the same power in your New Creation & change of your Natures, as in his first Creation of the World! how he hath dissolved and made Page 210 a divorce between your hearts and your sins, and so wonderfully United and espoused you unto the Lord Jesus, and by this Conjunction and Relation given you an Interest in all the Priviledges which Christ hath purchased. If you know that Christ doth love you, you m•y know assuredly that you are Justi∣fied through his Merits and Mediation, and O what matter of Joy is this, to think that all your sins Original and Actu∣al, are pardoned, that none can lay any sin to your charge, because God hath justified you! that there is none that shall condemn you, because Christ hath loved you, and out of Love hath dyed for you, and is now making Intercession for you at the right hand of God, Rom. 8. 33, 34. to be acquitted from all Guilt, and no more lyable unto future wrath than if you had never offended; and when you had no Righteousness of your own, to be ac∣cepted as perfectly Righteous in the sight of God, through the Imputation of Christ's perfect Righteousness! Who have reason to rejoyce, if you have not reason? If you know that Christ loveth you, you may assuredly say, that you are the Sons and Daughters of the Lord Al∣mighty; and will you not rejoyce, when Page 211 of Children of the Devil, Children of Disobedience, Children of Wrath, you are made the Children of God, the Glo∣rious Jehovah, that is the Supream So∣vereign and King of the whole World, and when you have not an empty Name onely, but are intituled to all the Privi∣ledges of his Children? If you know that Christ doth love you, you may know assuredly that he will keep alive his In∣terest in you, preserve his Grace in your hearts, and enable you to persevere in Faith and Holiness, notwithstanding all the alluring Temptations which you may meet withall in the World, notwith∣standing all the Suggestions and Oppo∣sitions of Sathan, and notwithstanding all the powerfull workings of your remain∣ing lusts and corruptions, all which do combine together, and use all their pow∣er and policy (which is great) to extir∣pate your Grace, to draw you unto sin, to entice or force you out of the wayes of God; and O what matter of comfort is it, that the Lord Jesus who loveth you, hath undertaken for you, to keep you in his hand, and by his unseen but mighty power to enable you to resist and over∣come, to hold on in his wayes, and hold out unto the end, so that you may tri∣umph Page 212 with the Apostle, and say, as Rom. 8. 35, 37. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or di∣siress, or persecution, or famine, or na∣kedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerours through him that loved us. And you may be perswaded as Paul was, and greatly rejoyce therein, that, as v. 38, 39. Nei∣ther death, nor life, nor Angels, nor Prin∣cipalities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heighth, nor depth, nor any other Creature shall be able to se∣parate you from the love of God which is in Christ Iesus your Lord. If you know that Christ doth love you, you may know assuredly that your Prayers have audience with God, that whatever im∣perfections and sinfull mixtures they have, yet that they are mingled with the sweet Incense of Christ's Merits, through which they are persumed and accepted; and what comfort is this, that whatever you ask of the Father in the Name of your dear Lord Jesus, if it be for his Glory and your good, he will cer∣tainly procure it for you. To conclude, If you know that Christ doth love you, you may know assuredly that you are Heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, and Page 213 that as certainly as you are alive, you shall attain eternal Felicity in the Beati∣fical Vision and Fruition of your Lord; as certainly as you have the first Fruits, so certainly shall you have the Harvest; as certainly as you have the Earnest, so cer∣tainly shall you have the Inheritance; as certainly as you see Christ by Faith here, so certainly shall you have the Beatifical Vision of his Person and Glory in Hea∣ven, and be made perfectly happy in the eternal and full Enjoyment of him; O how should you then rejoyce in the Lord, rejoyce in his Person, rejoyce in his Love, rejoyce in his Benefits, rejoyce in what you have, and rejoyce in what you hope to have by him; rejoyce in what you see now, and feel now, and taste now; and rejoyce in the foresights and fore∣tastes of your Happiness to come. Re∣joyce in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoyce.
2. If you have Manifestations of Christs Love unto you, Admire his Free Grace in these Manifestations; as Ioh. 14. 22. when Christ had promised to mani∣fest himself unto such as love him, Iu∣das (not Iscariot, he was the Traytor, and had no true love to his Master, but IudasPage 214 the Brother of Iames) saith to him, Lord how is it that thou wilt manifest thy self unto us, and not unto the World? This Question is not a Question of Enquiry concerning the Way and Manner how Christ would manifest himself unto them, but it is a Question of Admiration con∣cerning the Thing; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. What is done? or What is come to pass? How is it? or Whence is it? His Question did not ex∣pect an Answer, neither do we find any to it, but onely expressed his Wonder that Christ should manifest himself unto them. And how should you wonder then that the Lord Jesus should manifest him∣self unto you! That the Lord Jesus, whose Name is Wonderfull, and hath so many Wonders in him, a Person of so great Eminency and Excellency, who hath such a Crown of Glory upon his Head, such Robes of Glory upon his Back, and on the Vesture of his Garment and his Thigh a Name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; that this most excellent Person should manifest himself unto You, such as You, when he conceals himself from the greatest Princes of the Earth, who by their Interest, Authority and Influence might that highly promote his Glory, he Page 215 should manifest himself unto You, who for the most part are low and mean, poor and despised in the World; that when he hideth himself from most of the Wise and Prudent, and great Scholars in the world, who by their Parts and Learning might magnifie his Name, and spread his Fame, he should manifest himself unto you, who for the most part are persons of mean parts and Education; that when Christ hideth himself from many Mora∣lists, who have escaped the grosser Pol∣lutions which are in the World, he should reveal and manifest himself unto you, some of whom before Conversion were notoriously guilty of most foul sins; that when Christ manifesteth himself un∣to so Few, that you should be in the Number of those Few; how many won∣ders are here! That this Glorious Per∣son should send down another Glorious Person, I mean the Holy Ghost, from Heaven, (which is more than if he had sent down all the Glorious Angels which are in Heaven) to make this Dis∣covery of himself unto you; That he should make use of the Foolishnesse of Preaching as a Means to effect this great thing, that while a man of like pas∣sions and infirmities with your selves is Page 216 opening and applying the Scriptures, the Lord by this means should unveil himself and open the treasures of his Love unto you: that your humble fervent and belie∣ving prayers here on Earth should ascend up to the throne of God that is in Hea∣ven, and move the Lord Jesus that is there to come down, thence, though not in per∣son, yet by his Spirit; that prayer should open heavens gate, and have such a pre∣valency for this manifestation and discove∣ry of Christ; though the best prayers of the best men are not without mixture of sin: that whilst you are sitting at the Lords table, the Lord himself should give you a visit, and whilst you are eating bread and wine at the Sacrament, he should give you to see and feel and taste himself and his Love by your spiritual senses. It was wonderful humiliation in Christ that when he could have commanded the most, stately Horses, yea Lions, Elephants, or Unicorns, he should ride to Ierusalem upon an Ass, and when Christ hath the Chariots of so many thousand glorious Angels, which he could command and ride triumphantly in, when he makes dis∣covery of himself unto his people, that he should make use of the Chariots of so mean Ordinances in the discovery of him∣self Page 217 unto you; how many wonders are here? how should you admire his won∣derful Grace and Love, and say, what is man that thou art thus mindful of him, or any of the sons of men, that thou shouldst thus visit them? what are we unworthy wretches? and why shouldst thou manifest thy self unto us? even so dear Jesus because it seemed good in thy sight: especially you have reason to wonder and admire at the manifestations which Christ hath given of himself and love to you, when you consider the excellency of these manifestations and discoveries beyond all other discoveries. If you have seen the most rare works of Art and Human Invention, the most curious Pictures, the most stately Edifices, or any other works of the most ingenious con∣trivement: If you have viewed the works of nature which do far exceed those of Art, the beautiful frame of the Heavens over your heads, and the glorious Lumi∣naries of Sun, Moon, and Stars, in their wonderful light and motion; the Earth under your feet when it hath got on its best attire, when the fields are clothed with grass in the Spring, or enriched with corn in the summer; If you have seen the most pleasant Brooks and Streams, and Fountains of water, the most stately Page 218 Groves with losty and broad shadowing Trees; the most flourishing Orchards, most richly laden with variety of the most de∣licious fruit; the most delightfull Gar∣dens with variety of the choisest Flowers casting forth the most fragrant smell; If you have seen all sorts of Birds, and fowls in the Air, All sorts of Beasts on the Earth, All sorts of fish in the Sea; If you have seen the most goodly men that ever were born; the fairest women, with the most spark∣ling beauty: What is the sight of all these things, and the most lovely objects that ever were visible to the eye of the body? the sight of all is but mean and con∣temptible and not worthy to be named in comparison with the sight of the Lord Je∣sus by the eye of the Soul; Whatever beauty and loveliness there is to be found in any, or in all visible Creatures, there is infinitely more beauty and loveliness in Jesus Christ; all visible beauty is but a sha∣dow, in Christ there is substantial beauty; all visible beauty is fading, like the flower that soon withereth, like the leaf that soon fadeth, but in Christ there is per∣manent beauty; all visible beauty is infe∣riour and mean, yea deformity compared with Christ's transcendent loveliness. There is no discovery to the eye of the Page 219 mind comparable to the discovery of Christ unto the eye of Faith; the light of Nature in the greatest improvement of it, is but a weak and dim light in com∣parison with the spiritual light of the knowledge of Christ; no light so clear and bright, no light so pure and sweet, as that which makes discovery of the Lord Jesus unto the Soul. This discovery of Christ doth dispel clouds from the Mind, and exhale lusts from the Heart; it doth brighten the understanding and cleanse the Affections; it doth warm the Heart with love, and fill the Heart with comfort; it quiets the Conscience and purifies it; it gives a most sweet peace and tranquilli∣ty to the spirit, and withall brings in such spiritual joy, as is unspeakable and full of Glory. O how then should you ad∣mire the Riches of the Grace, and Kind∣ness of the Lord Jesus Christ unto you! that he should give unto you this discove∣ry of himself, when the discovery is so admirable, so excellent, so desirable, so useful, and which doth list you up into a far higher degree of excellency, than the otherwise most accomplisht persons in the world, that are without this discovery.
3dly. To conclude, If you have these ma∣nifestations Page 220 of Christ and his love unto you, labor to retain these manifestations. In a word, take heed of indulging your selves in any sins, which may provoke him to depart from you, and withdraw the sweet and comfortable influences of his Spirit, and be diligent in the use of all means and ordinances, publick, private and secret, whereby you may maintain daily Com∣munion and Fellowship with him.
Books Printed for, and sold by Samuel S•int at the Bell in Little Brittain.
THe vanity of Mans Present state proved and applyed in a Sermon on Psal. 39. 5. with di∣vers Sermons of the Saints Communion with God, and safety under his protection, in order to their future Glory, on Psal. 73. 23, 24, 25, 26, By the late painful Minister of the Word Mr. Iohn Wilson.
A Treatise concerning the Lords Supper, with Three Dialogues, for the more full information of the weak, in the Nature and Use of this Sa∣crament, by Thomas Dolittle▪ from 1 Cor. 11. 24. This do in Remembrance of me, the ninth Edition.
Time, and the end of Time, in two Discourses, The first about the Redemption of Time, the se∣cond about consideration of our lat•r end, by Iohn Fox.
Godly Fear, or the Nature and Necessity of Fear, and its usefullne••• both to the driving Sinners to Christ and to the provoking Christians on in a Godly Life, through the several parts and Duties of it, till they come to Blessedness, Heb. 12. 20. Let us have Grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly Fear.
The Door of Heaven opened and shut; opened to the Ready and Prepared, shut against the un∣ready and unprepared; or Discourse concerning the absolute necessity of a timely Preparation for a happy Eternity, by Iohn Fox Minister of the Gospel, and Author of the Discourse concerning Time and the end of Time.